Editor’s Note: We are republishing this piece, first published in November, because of its renewed timeliness. Former Governor Mike Huckabee is working with the Iowa politico-religious organization The Family Leader to leverage prime electoral timing and geography premiering anti-choice propaganda filmThe Gift of Life in Des Moines on Wednesday, December 14th. Brought to you by Citizen’s United. Yes, that Citizen’s United.
GOP hopefuls Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum will be attending the premier. Billed in a recent email blast by The Family Leader, The Gift of Life is:
“…An hour-long inspirational documentary that explores the sanctity of human life as a moral issue and looks at the lives of individuals on the front lines of the Pro-Life movement in America, including those who were nearly victims of abortion.”
Mike Huckabee cannot resist the presidential stage even though he chose not to run this year to maintain his FOX News contract. Next month he brings an anti-choice propaganda documentary to 2012 election central: Iowa. The movie, called “The Gift of Life,” was produced by Citizens United.
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Yes, that Citizens United. The Citizens United whose favorable Supreme Court ruling granted corporations personhood and allowed for unlimited corporate funding of political campaigns. A ruling that, at least in part, led thousands and thousands of Americans into the streets to join the Occupy Wall Street movement.
This from The Des Moines Register:
Mike Huckabee will premiere a documentary about the moral issues of abortion in Des Moines next month – and he has invited eight 2012 GOP candidates to speak on abortion issues.
Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, Rick Perry, Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann, Jon Huntsman, and Rick Santorum have been invited, and each will get five minutes to speak, said Jeff Marschner, spokesman for Citizens United.
As pro-choice advocates, it is important for us to know just how deep and wide the network of big money and big backers are in the war on women.
The Citizens United ruling has its roots in Wisconsin. What eventually became the case brought before SCOTUS last year grew, at least in part, out of FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life (WRTL).
The case was argued and an opinion – favoring WRTL – was issued in 2007 which said that spending on political ads within a 60-day window prior to an election did not violate any existing campaign finance rules. That opened the floodgates to political spending by Wisconsin Right to Life and set a favorable precedent that eventually led to the CU ruling.
The attorney behind the CU and WRTL cases is Terre Haute, Indiana attorney James Bopp. Although Bopp did not end up arguing the CU case in front of SCOTUS, he happily took full credit for its success. This from a January 2010 New York Times article:
We had a 10-year plan to take all this down. If we do it right, I think we can pretty well dismantle the entire regulator regime that is called campaign finance law….we have been awfully successful and we are not done yet.
If we peel the onion a bit more in these cases, we unearth The Club for Growth. Yes, that Club for Growth — The Koch brothers’ political vehicle.
In 2003 Bopp, the National Right to Life Committee, and the Club for Growth argued a campaign finance case before the Supreme Court, pre-dating the Wisconsin Right to Life and CU cases. (Another complainant in the case was the Indiana Family Institute (IFI), a state affiliate of Focus on the Family. IFI successfully shepherded an anti-gay marriage amendment to passage and was instrumental in passing the defund Planned Parenthood bill in Indiana).
Lisa Subek, executive director of NARAL Pro Choice Wisconsin told me WRTL spends an unbelievable amount of money to influence Wisconsin politicos and push its anti-choice agenda. That agenda has most recently included the anti-sex ed bill – SB 237 – that passed the Wisconsin Senate earlier this month. This maneuver overturns the nascent comprehensive sex ed bill passed just last year in Wisconsin. SB 237 is now being debated in committee hearings on its way to a vote in the Wisconsin Assembly. Subek assured me that the measure would pass when the legislature returns to Madison in January. And, of course, Governor Walker will sign the bill post haste.
The Gift of Life is breathtaking in its deception. A montage of troubled looking characters and morose music set the stage as the documentary spins a tale of “true life stories.” Stories that are supposed to remind us most importantly “life begins at conception”.
One of the first players on screen is a woman in a smart green suit and pearls. She tells us:
I wanted to be a millionaire and the way I could be a millionaire was to do forty thousand abortions a year.
This statement suggests that she is a doctor. She isn’t. She is Carol Everett, founder and CEO of The Heidi Group. The Heidi group claims to be “pro-life, pro-women” and promises that it is “setting women free from abortion.” Backing off her 40,000 figure ust a little, Everett says, “I was personally involved in 35,000 abortions plus my own. And if not for the blood of Jesus, I couldn’t say that.”
Then, we are introduced to Maria Lancaster who says the following bit of nonsense, speaking of her daughter: “She was adopted as a frozen embryo of two cells.” Lancaster is the founder and Executive Director of Embryo Adoption Services of Cedar Park. She doubles down on the two-cell embryo business on her bio page:
When you see the picture of your daughter underneath a microscope as a two cell little being and then when I gave birth to her and held her in my arms and she looked into my eyes, it makes the gravity and the meaning of what a human embryo is; it drives it home.
And, this should make your hair stand on end. Lancaster served as NW Regional Representative for the Embryo Adoption Awareness Campaign in 2006, a grant funded by the Bush Administration.
Next up anti-choice darling, Lila Rose (of course) makes a cameo in the trailer bookended by an image of an ultrasound of a near full-term pregnancy and a computer-generated image of a fully developed fetus.
Nowhere do the filmmakers let the viewership know that the majority of abortions occur in the first trimester of pregnancy. If they wanted to be more accurate, Lila would be flanked by an indiscernible ultrasound image and an artist’s rendering of a pumpkin seed. At no time do the filmmakers tell of the life-threatening medical emergencies a pregnant woman faces that lead to late term abortions. Nowhere in the trailer does it suggest they interview the scores of women who have been raped or are the victims of incest that become pregnant and seek abortions. In no way does this Citizens United (un)infomercial attempt to tackle the true face of what a woman faces when she chooses abortion.
Of course, this is prime electoral timing and geography: Iowa in December, just a few weeks prior to the first in the nation caucuses on January 3, 2012. Mike Huckabee and Citizens United are political opportunists leveraging a woman’s right to choose in exchange for votes. Abortion is the dog whistle of the religious right, the call to single-issue voters to come out to the polls.
Pundits can shrug off this war on women as electoral showmanship. But what this GOP field and cheerleaders like Huckabee are doing is stirring up right-wing hornets nests all around the country and after the polls close and the political carnival moves on for another few years, the damage will have been done.