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Meet 8 Right-Wing Groups Practicing Scorched-Earth Anti-Choice Nuttery Against Women

They’ve sent a strong message to Republicans: It’s not enough to be “pro-life” anymore. They want full-on war on women and sex.
 
 
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Is there a rift in the anti-choice movement?  A recent story  in the New York Times centered around Ohio Right To Life’s unwillingness to lend their support or endorsement to a bill banning abortion from the time a heartbeat is detected in an embryo certainly makes that clear. As reproductive rights activists have noted for a couple of years now, there’s a war breaking out between two anti-choice groups, the incrementalists and the absolutists. Both largely agree on the goals of the movement, which is a complete ban on all abortion, with severe restrictions and possibly bans on contraception as well. What they disagree about is tactics. Incrementalists view themselves the more mainstream branch of the movement, and they focus mainly on chipping away at abortion rights. They’re wary of taking the fight to the courts, who tend to routinely shoot down any legislation perceived as an out-and-out ban on abortion.

The absolutists, on the other hand, claim this is a failed strategy and want to come out of the closet as full-throated soldiers in the war on women and sex, by directly attacking Roe v. Wade and taking the fight beyond abortion to contraception. Absolutists have managed to go around the more mainstream anti-abortion movement, passing legislation and gaining ground in the Republican Party. They’ve even managed to make Democrats cower, as evidenced by the highly unusual decision of the HHS to overrule the FDA’s decision to make Plan B available over the counter.

Who are some of these absolutists? Here’s a snapshot of some of the organizations that are demanding not just immediate challenges to Roe, but also want a rapid escalation of the war on women’s right to contraception and other forms of basic reproductive health care.

Who are some of these absolutists? Here’s a snapshot of some of the organizations that are demanding not just immediate challenges to Roe, but also want a rapid escalation of the war on women’s right to contraception and other forms of basic reproductive health care.

Personhood USA. This is the umbrella group for various state activist groups pushing to get “personhood amendments” onto the ballot. Unlike most anti-choice organizations that push for a variety of actions, Personhood USA has only one ostensible goal, to amend state constitutions to get fertilized eggs defined as legal “persons”. Behind this seemingly simple goal lies a radical agenda. Not only would personhood amendments ban abortion, but they would also make it illegal to treat ectopic pregnancies, save women suffering incomplete miscarriages from dying of sepsis, open up criminal investigations of miscarriages, and ban IVF and research on stem cells, personhood advocates have repeatedly suggested that it should also be used to ban the birth control pill and the IUD, which they incorrectly argue work by killing fertilized eggs. The radical nature of the initiative made it impossible to pass in Mississippi, arguably the most conservative state in the country, giving incrementalists ammo in their argument against the absolutist approach.   

Live Action. That absolutists can’t get their agenda past the voters doesn’t mean that their radical approach is a failure, however. After all, they don’t have to win over voters so long as they control the Republican Party on the choice question.  Live Action provides some of the best evidence of the success of the absolutist approach. Live Action openly supports the absolutist agenda, putting their support behind personhood initiatives and attacking Planned Parenthood not just for providing abortion, but because the organization is willing to provide STD and contraception information to minors and self-identified sex workers. 

Early in 2011, Live Action launched a series of deceptively edited videos that managed only to prove that Planned Parenthood follows the law, provides perfectly legal health care to minors and self-identified sex workers,  and immediately complies with reporting laws regarding the abuse of minors . Even though they did nothing but prove that Planned Parenthood obeys the law and standard medical ethics, Live Action still managed to compel a national crisis over Title X funding offered to clinics who provide contraception services that culminated in the Republicans threatening to shut down the federal government if contraception subsidies weren’t immediately halted. This, even though  77% of Republican voters support contraception subsidies .  The word “abortion” was thrown around a lot to justify this attack on Title X, but at the end of the day, Live Action and the Republicans were attacking contraception, as Title X legally cannot subsidize abortion. 

 
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