Three prominent anti-choice lobbyists reportedly met with a top White House official on Tuesday to discuss a nationwide total abortion ban pending in the U.S. Congress.
C-SPAN cameras spotted the trio—Janet Porter, the Faith2Action leader deemed too extreme for Christian talk radio; a person who appears to be Faith2Action Legislative Director Rachelle Heidlebaugh, whose subscription LinkedIn page includes work for a crisis pregnancy center and most recently, the Koch-funded Concerned Vets for America; and Tom DeLay, the former U.S. House of Representatives majority leader convicted on campaign finance violations that were later overturned on appeal.
The group posed for photos upon leaving the White House.
PICTURES: Tom DeLay spotted at the White House Stakeout in Washington, DC on September 12, 2017. pic.twitter.com/u9M8P3v5Cx
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The three met with abortion rights antagonist Vice President Mike Pence’s director of domestic policy to discuss the House’s “heartbeat bill,” according to conservative journalist Emily Miller. Neither the president’s nor the vice president’s public schedules indicated that they were in attendance.
DeLay – former House Majority Leader and Whip – is with Faith to Action staff to meet with Daris Meeks at White House about Heartbeat Bill
— Emily Miller (@EmilyMiller) September 12, 2017
The bill is modeled on Porter’s vetoed Ohio attempt to end legal abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy—before many people know they’re pregnant. She cooked up the federal version with GOP Rep. Steve King (IA), Capitol Hill’s pre-eminent white nationalist who counts abortion as one of his grievances against Black Americans, at Phyllis Schlafly’s funeral, Right Wing Watch first reported in October.
Rewire was the first to report on the bill’s formal introduction in January, a week before President Trump took office. King allowed Porter to run a subsequent press conference doubling down on what he flat-out admitted could “eliminate a large, large share of the abortions—90 percent or better of the abortions in America.”
White House spokesperson Kelly Love declined to comment via email, as did Marc Lotter, a top spokesperson for Pence. Lotter previously wouldn’t answer Rewire’s questions about a July meeting between Pence and other anti-choice activists, even though some of the advocates are clearly identifiable in a photo posted from the vice president’s official Twitter account.
The various breadcrumbs this time around indicate that so-called heartbeat bill lobbyists are making progress on the total abortion ban, even if the shape of that progress isn’t yet evident to the public.
HuffPost’s Matt Fuller spotted DeLay on Capitol Hill in June making the case for the total abortion ban.
Ran into Tom DeLay on Capitol Hill. He’s trying to pass a “heartbeat” bill.
“If a heartbeat is detected, a child is protected,” DeLay says.
— Matt Fuller (@MEPFuller) June 21, 2017
DeLay Skyped into an August Faith2Action fundraiser for the bill, according to an EventBrite registration page.
“It is rapidly gaining momentum to the point where we could see this Bill passed and the President sign it into law THIS YEAR, instantly stopping over 90% of abortions in America!” the registration said.
Political and Campaigns Editor Ally Boguhn contributed to this report.