Troy Newman, president of radical anti-choice group Operation Rescue, said he would vote for presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump in a post on his organization’s website that stopped just short of an endorsement, adding to the chorus of anti-choice leaders lining up to back the candidate.
Newman, who originally endorsed Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and served on his anti-choice coalition before the candidate suspended his campaign, wrote that since his “man” was no longer an option, he felt conflicted about who to support in the general election. It was ultimately a “simple choice” to vote for Trump.
“So, yes, I can vote for Trump, but I’m stopping short on an endorsement,” Newman wrote before calling on Trump to “earn” the anti-choice vote through a laundry list of demands.
“Donald Trump needs to name 3 or 4 Supreme Court Justices that he would appoint. He needs to codify his promise to defund Planned Parenthood,” Newman wrote. “He needs to ensure that the pro-life position in the GOP platform is left untouched, or, better yet, made stronger by adding ‘Defund PP’ language!”
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The activist directed Trump to release his choices for several key positions in his administration, claiming that “we all know that personnel are policy.”
“I’d like to see Trump pre-appoint a cabinet,” Newman wrote. “Who would be his Attorney General to prosecute Planned Parenthood? Who would be the HHS Secretary ensuring that the abortion mandate in ObamaCare is abolished?”
Newman’s record as an extremist has been a point of controversy on the campaign trail. Leaders from Planned Parenthood Action Fund, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and People for the American Way penned a letter in April calling on Cruz to distance himself from Newman based on the activist’s history of violent rhetoric about reproductive health.
That rhetoric includes writing a book arguing that those who have abortions should be treated as murderers and abortion care providers should be executed. Newman co-founded the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), the anti-choice organization whose deceptively edited videos falsely accused Planned Parenthood of profiting from fetal tissue donations and led to the felony indictment of the group’s figurehead.
A recent report from the National Abortion Federation (NAF) found “a dramatic increase in hate speech and internet harassment, death threats, attempted murder, and murder,” that coincided with the launch of CMP’s smear campaign against Planned Parenthood.
Newman was detained last October by Australian authorities who feared the anti-choice leader’s presence in the country could lead to the “harassment and intimidation” of those seeking reproductive health care.
Trump has faced a wave of criticism from conservatives and anti-choice activists over his assertion that he would change the GOP’s platform on abortion rights to include exceptions for cases of rape and incest. Cruz supporters have reportedly moved to block such changes from being made during the GOP convention in July.
Nevertheless, anti-choice groups and their leaders have backed the presumptive Republican nominee. Officials from both Priests for Life and the Susan B. Anthony List last week signaled support for Trump in statements to the Washington Times, despite both groups having condemned the candidate over his abortion rhetoric.
The night prior to Newman’s post, Trump vowed during an appearance on Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor to nominate anti-choice judges to the Supreme Court should he be elected. “They will be pro-life, and we will see about overturning [Roe v. Wade],” Trump told host Bill O’Reilly when prompted to discuss how he would “protect the sanctity of human life” if he won the White House. “I will appoint judges that will be pro-life.”
Trump in March went as far as to suggest that those who have abortions should be punished should the procedure be outlawed. His campaign later issued a statement claiming doctors, not abortion patients, would be punished.