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Akin’s Fake Biology Lesson Just Latest In Anti-Choice Junk Science

Robin Marty

We've now hit a point where courts support fiction over fact.

Crisis pregnancy centers are purposefully lying to women under the guise of free speech, and doctors are being forced to tell lies as a means of “informed consent.” Have we truly entered a realm where we have gone beyond fact and fiction being bizarrely presented as equal and instead to one where fiction is being elevated as preferred to fact?

Yes, according to Meghan Rhoad of Human Rights Watch. At least when it comes to women’s health.

Via Politico:

Many of those now calling for Akin to abandon his Senate bid have promoted outright lies in the service of an anti-abortion agenda. These falsehoods have permeated policies at the state and federal levels, to the detriment of women’s health across the U.S.

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What is at stake in each of these situations is a basic question: do women deserve accurate medical information?

If the question were posed in relation to heart disease, there would be no question. It should be the same with abortion. There is no place for propagating falsehoods when the facts are plain. The outrage over Akin’s comments is warranted — all the more so when views like his become public policy.

The war on women is more than just a war on reproductive health, but a war on critical thinking and science, too.

Roundups Politics

Trump Taps Extremists, Anti-Choice Advocates in Effort to Woo Evangelicals

Ally Boguhn

Representatives from radical anti-abortion group Operation Rescue praised Trump’s commitment to its shared values during the event. “I’m very impressed that Mr. Trump would sit with conservative leaders for multiple questions, and then give direct answers,” said the organization's president, Troy Newman, who was in attendance at a question-and-answer event on Tuesday.

Making a play to win over the evangelical community, presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump met with more than 1,000 faith and anti-choice leaders on Tuesday for a question-and-answer event in New York City and launched an “evangelical advisory board” to weigh in on how he should approach key issues for the voting bloc.

The meeting was meant to be “a guided discussion between Trump and diverse conservative Christian leaders to better understand him as a person, his position on important issues and his vision for America’s future,” according to a press release from the event’s organizers. As Rewire previously reported, numerous anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ leaders—many of them extremists—were slated to attend.

Though the event was closed to the media, Trump reportedly promised to lift a ban on tax-exempt organizations from politicking and discussed his commitment to defending religious liberties. Trump’s pitch to conservatives also included a resolution that upon his election, “the first thing we will do is support Supreme Court justices who are talented men and women, and pro-life,” according to a press release from United in Purpose, which helped organize the event.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-choice Susan B. Anthony List, told the New York Times that the business mogul also reiterated promises to defund Planned Parenthood and to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a 20-week abortion ban based on the medically unsupported claim that a fetus feels pain at that point in a pregnancy.

In a post to its website, representatives from radical anti-abortion group Operation Rescue praised Trump’s commitment to their shared values during the event. “I’m very impressed that Mr. Trump would sit with conservative leaders for multiple questions, and then give direct answers,” said the group’s president, Troy Newman, who was in attendance. “I don’t believe anything like this has ever happened.” The post went on to note that Trump had also said he would appoint anti-choice justices to federal courts, and repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Just after the event, Trump’s campaign announced the formation of an evangelical advisory board. The group was “convened to provide advisory support to Mr. Trump on those issues important to Evangelicals and other people of faith in America,” according to a press release from the campaign. Though members of the board, which will lead Trump’s “much larger Faith and Cultural Advisory Committee to be announced later this month,” were not asked to endorse Trump, the campaign went on to note that “the formation of the board represents Donald J. Trump’s endorsement of those diverse issues important to Evangelicals and other Christians, and his desire to have access to the wise counsel of such leaders as needed.”

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Much like the group that met with Trump on Tuesday, the presumptive Republican nominee’s advisory board roster reads like a who’s-who of conservatives with radical opposition to abortion and LGBTQ equality. Here are some of the group’s most notable members:

Michele Bachmann

Though former Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann once claimed that “women don’t need anyone to tell them what to do on health care” while arguing against the ACA during a 2012 appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press, her views on the government’s role in restricting reproductive health and rights don’t square away with that position.

During a December 2011 “tele-town hall” event hosted by anti-choice organization Personhood USA, Bachmann reportedly falsely referred to emergency contraception as “abortion pills” and joined other Republican then-presidential candidates to advocate for making abortion illegal, even in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment. During the event, Bachmann touted her support of the anti-choice group’s “personhood pledge,” which required presidential candidates to agree that:

I stand with President Ronald Reagan in supporting “the unalienable personhood of every American, from the moment of conception until natural death,” and with the Republican Party platform in affirming that I “support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and endorse legislation to make clear that the 14th Amendment protections apply to unborn children.

Such a policy, if enacted by lawmakers, could outlaw abortion and many forms of contraception. A source from Personhood USA told the Huffington Post that Bachmann “signed the pledge and returned it within twenty minutes, which was an extraordinarily short amount of time.”

Bachmann has also claimed that God told her to introduce a measure to block marriage equality in her home state, that being an LGBTQ person is “ part of Satan,” and that same-sex marriage is a “radical experiment that will have “profound consequences.”

Mark Burns

Televangelist Mark Burns has been an ardent supporter of Trump, even appearing on behalf of the presidential candidate at February’s Faith and Family Forum, hosted by the conservative Palmetto Family Council, to deliver an anti-abortion speech.

In March, Burns also claimed that he supported Donald Trump because Democrats like Hillary Clinton supported Black “genocide” (a frequently invoked conservative myth) during an appearance on the fringe-conspiracy program, the Alex Jones show. “That’s really one of my major platforms behind Donald Trump,” said Burns, according to the Daily Beast. “He loves babies. Donald Trump is a pro-baby candidate, and it saddens me how we as African Americans are rallying behind … a party that is okay with the genocide of Black people through abortion.”

Burns’ support of Trump extended to the candidate’s suggestion that if abortion was made illegal, those who have abortions should be punished—an issue on which Trump has repeatedly shifted stances. “If the state made it illegal and said the premature death of an unborn child constituted murder, anyone connected to that crime should be held liable,” Burns told the Wall Street Journal in April. “If you break the law there should be punishment.”

Kenneth and Gloria Copeland

Kenneth and Gloria Copeland founded Kenneth Copeland Ministries (KCM), which, according to its mission statement, exists to “teach Christians worldwide who they are in Christ Jesus and how to live a victorious life in their covenant rights and privileges.” Outlining their opposition to abortion in a post this month on the organization’s website, the couple wrote that abortion is wrong even in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment. “As the author of life, God considers an unborn child to be an eternal being from the moment of its conception,” explained the post. “To deliberately destroy that life before birth would be as much premeditated murder as taking the life of any other innocent person.”

The article went on to say that though it may “seem more difficult in cases such as those involving rape or incest” not to choose abortion, “God has a plan for the unborn child,” falsely claiming that the threat of life endangerment has “been almost completely alleviated through modern medicine.”

The ministries’ website also features Pregnancy Options Centre, a crisis pregnancy center (CPC) in Vancouver, Canada, that receives “financial and spiritual support” from KCM and “its Partners.” The vast majority of CPCs  regularly lie to women in order to persuade them not to have an abortion.

Kenneth Copeland, in a June 2013 sermon, tied pedophilia to the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, going on to falsely claim that the ruling did not actually legalize abortion and that the decision was “the seed to murder our seed.” Copeland blamed legal abortion for the country’s economic woes, reasoning that there are “several million taxpayers that are not alive.”

Copeland, a televangelist, originally supported former Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (TX) in the 2016 Republican primary, claiming that the candidate had been “called and appointed” by God to be the next president. His ministry has previously faced scrutiny about its tax-exempt status under an investigation led by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) into six ministries “whose television preaching bankrolled leaders’ lavish lifestyles.” This investigation concluded in 2011, according to the New York Times.

James Dobson

James Dobson, founder and chairman emeritus of Focus on the Family (FoF), previously supported Cruz in the Republican primary, releasing an ad for the campaign in February praising Cruz for defending “the sanctity of human life and traditional marriage.” As Rewire previously reported, both Dobson and his organization hold numerous extreme views:

Dobson’s FoF has spent millions promoting its anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ extremism, even dropping an estimated $2.5 million in 2010 to fund an anti-choice Super Bowl ad featuring conservative football player Tim Tebow. Dobson also founded the … Family Research Council, now headed by Tony Perkins.

Dobson’s own personal rhetoric is just as extreme as the causes his organization pushes. As extensively documented by Right Wing Watch,

Dobson has:

Robert Jeffress

A Fox News contributor and senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, Jeffress once suggested that the 9/11 attacks took place because of legal abortion. “All you have to do is look in history to see what God does with a nation that sanctions the killing of its own children,” said Jeffress at Liberty University’s March 2015 convocation, according to Right Wing Watch. “God will not allow sin to go unpunished and he certainly won’t allow the sacrifice of children to go unpunished.”

Jeffress spoke about the importance of electing Trump during a campaign rally in February, citing Democrats’ positions on abortion rights and Trump’s belief “in protecting the unborn.” He went on to claim that if Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) or Hillary Clinton were elected, “there is no doubt you’re going to have the most pro-abortion president in history.”

After Trump claimed women who have abortions should be punished should it become illegal, Jeffres rushed to defend the Republican candidate from bipartisan criticism, tweeting: “Conservatives’ outrage over @realDonaldTrump abortion comments hypocritical. Maybe they don’t really believe abortion is murder.”

As documented by Media Matters, Jeffress has frequently spoken out against those of other religions and denominations, claiming that Islam is “evil” and Catholicism is “what Satan does with counterfeit religion.” The pastor has also demonstrated extreme opposition to LGBTQ equality, even claiming that same-sex marriage is a sign of the apocalypse.

Richard Land

Richard Land, now president of the Southern Evangelical Seminary, was named one of Time Magazine‘s “25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America” in 2005 for his close ties with the Republican party. While George W. Bush was president, Land participated in the administration’s “weekly teleconference with other Christian conservatives, to plot strategy on such issues as gay marriage and abortion.” Bush also appointed Land to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in 2002.

According to a 2002 article from the Associated Press, during his early academic career in Texas, “Land earned a reputation as a leader among abortion opponents and in 1987 became an administrative assistant to then-Texas Gov. Bill Clements, who fought for laws to restrict a woman’s right to an abortion” in the state.

Land had previously expressed “dismay” that some evangelicals were supporting Trump, claiming in October that he “take[s] that [support] as a failure on our part to adequately disciple our people.”

Roundups Politics

Campaign Week in Review: Anti-Choice Groups Cheer Trump’s Latest Hire

Ally Boguhn

Anti-choice groups began this week to change their mind about Donald Trump, praising the Republican’s latest campaign hire, and a new report showed a rise in anti-Muslim violence amid the backdrop of the 2016 presidential election.

Anti-choice groups began this week to change their mind about Donald Trump, praising the Republican’s latest campaign hire, and a new report showed a rise in anti-Muslim violence amid the backdrop of the 2016 presidential election.

Anti-Choice Groups Cheer Donald Trump’s New Domestic Policy Hire

Despite spending months questioning Donald Trump’s opposition to abortion rights, anti-choice groups are now singing the presumptive Republican nominee’s praises after he reportedly hired John Mashburn, an anti-choice advocate, as a policy adviser.

“This is an excellent hire, especially for the pro-life movement and our legislative priorities,” wrote Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-choice organization Susan B. Anthony List, in a post for the Pulse. “I have known and respected John Mashburn for many years. He is a smart strategist with deep pro-life roots. … If I were running for president, I would want John Mashburn as a top advisor, too.”

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Penny Nance, president and CEO of Concerned Women for America, told the Washington Examiner that Mashburn “is a rock solid pro-lifer” and “[s]omeone we can work with.”

Mashburn has worked for late Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC), who sponsored the Helms Amendment, ensuring that “no foreign assistance funds may be used to pay for the performance of abortion as a method of family planning.”

The anti-choice group’s praise for Trump seems to signal new support for the GOP candidate. Officials from Priests for Life and the Susan B. Anthony List told the Washington Times Wednesday that their organizations would back Trump now that many believe he will face Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the general election.

“Hillary Clinton can hardly find an abortion she doesn’t like,” Fr. Frank Pavone, national director for Priests for Life, said in a statement to the Washington Times. “She’s virtually for unrestricted abortion. Here, on the other hand, we have a man in Donald Trump who has said that abortion is wrong. He wants to protect the unborn, and he’s committed in fact to very specific steps.”

Study Finds Increase in Islamophobic Hate Crimes Since 2016 Election Cycle Started

A study conducted by Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative, which conducts academic research on Islamophobia, found a rise in violence against Muslims in the United States since the start of the 2016 presidential election.

Since the election season began in March 2015, “there have been approximately 180 reported acts or threats of anti-Muslim violence, including: twelve (12) murders; thirty-four (34) physical assaults; forty-nine (49) verbal assaults or threats against persons and institutions; fifty-six (56) acts of vandalisms or destruction of property; nine (9) arsons; and eight (8) shootings or bombings, among other incidents,” according to the report.

Though researchers caution that the rise in violence was not necessarily caused by the election cycle, spikes in anti-Muslim activities rose at the same time Republican presidential candidates’ inflammatory rhetoric about Muslims made news.

In one such example, after Trump called for mosques to be closed in the wake of terrorist attacks in Paris, and the mass shooting in San Bernardino California in late 2015, “anti-Muslim attacks initially tripled with nearly half of those attacks directed against mosques.”

The report suggested that Republican presidential candidates have contributed to already rising anti-Muslim sentiments throughout the country.

“Before and after terrorist attacks, American Muslims have been consistently and increasingly singled out in a growingly hostile, increasingly violent atmosphere of anti-Muslim sentiment. Irresponsible statements by presidential candidates, especially Ben Carson, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, have only contributed to the tension and fear that have spurred violence against a vulnerable American minority group,” the Bridge Initiative concluded. 

“Rather than urge calm and encourage unity in the wake of terrorist attacks—in Paris, San Bernardino and most recently, Brussels—that hurt Muslims and non-Muslims alike, Trump and Cruz have suggested, and stood by, policies to ban Muslims from entering the United States and patrol so-called ‘Muslim neighborhoods,’ respectively.”

What Else We’re Reading

Trump’s defense of his comments about punishing those who have abortions should the procedure be made illegal “is the worst defense anyone has ever given of anything,” according to Slate’s Ben Mathis-Lilley.

A Colorado-based PAC is asking white men not to run for office. The Can You Not PAC “was started by white men, for white men, asking white men that one important question: ‘Bruh, can you not?’” Feministing reports that the PAC, whose advisory board is “made up of progressive women, LGBTQ folks, and people of color,” will issue endorsements for the upcoming election “with the aim of defeating mediocre white dudes and elevating candidates from marginalized communities.”

More than 2,000 doctors signed onto an editorial and paper published in the American Journal of Public Health on Thursday, supporting Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All” health-care proposal.

Trump’s claim that Clinton is playing the “woman’s card” to get ahead in the election led to a massive $2.4 million fundraising haul in three days for the Democratic presidential candidate.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) may have dropped out of the presidential election, but that doesn’t mean we can forget about him: ThinkProgress’ Emily Atkin and Alice Ollstein detail ”some of the ways Cruz will likely try to wreak havoc now that he can focus his full attention on the Senate.”

Bloomberg Politics reports that big money groups are pouring millions into ballot initiatives across the country and have already raised more than $125 million for their causesa 74 percent increase from what was raised at this point in the 2014 election cycle.

Simon Moya-Smith explains the casual racism behind Clinton’s use of a phrase about Native Americans that “has nothing but very offensive roots.”

Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R)who notoriously slashed food assistance and came under fire in January for making “racist” remarks—told a town hall Wednesday that if Trump didn’t give him a spot in his administration, the governor would challenge Sen. Angus King (I) for his seat.

Republicans lawmakers in Virginia are planning to file a lawsuit challenging Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s recent restoration of voting rights for more than 200,000 people who have served time for a felony.

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