Activism

Groundbreaking Study Maps 'Insidious' (And Alarmingly Successful) Strategy of Anti-Choice Movement

The far-right religious fringe "has spent decades building the political infrastructure they need to attack abortion access from all sides."

Photo Credit: J. Bicking / Shutterstock

A new report released Thursday details how American anti-choice activists have used their "insidious power" to chip away at reproductive rights, infiltrate the Trump administration, and advance "their fringe agenda" nationwide.

The Insidious Power of the Anti-Choice Movement (pdf), published by NARAL Pro-Choice America, outlines how "the anti-choice movement has spent decades building the political infrastructure they need to attack abortion access from all sides."

The report shows how those opposed to a woman's right to choose have used judicial and political influence, fake health centers, protesters, and misinformation to impact policies and politics.

Currently, it warns, "anti-choice activists sit in influential roles across the Trump administration, have unprecedented influence over judicial nominations, and are introducing the most extreme anti-choice legislation ever seen in Congress."

Acknowledging that the report is the first of its kind, NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue explained that it "documents the inner workings of the anti-choice movement in a way that far exceeds what people currently understand about its agenda," which "is critical to understanding how the movement's insidious and out of step agenda is becoming reality."

"While seven in 10 Americans support legal abortion, this movement—fully empowered by the Trump administration—does everything it can to meet its sinister goals of governing all aspects of women's reproductive health, from banning abortion outright to limiting access to contraception," Hogue added. "Their influence is outsized relative to the popularity of their fringe agenda thanks to their highly coordinated, well-funded, under the radar work."

NARAL's report focuses on five ways anti-choice activists have advanced their agenda across the United States over the course of several decades, describing how the movement: 

  1. has been "strategically curating and nurturing judges" for federal court appointments, to benefit the movement's legal challenges to laws that guarantee reproductive rights;
  2. continues to craft legislative proposals that are "intended to go through the court system and provoke a challenge to Roe v. Wade," in hopes of overturning the case that constitutionally protects a woman's right to an abortion;
  3.  creates and supports "deceitful, fake health clinics that lure women in with misinformation" and help to build an on-the-ground network of anti-choice activists;
  4. has established the "illusion that the anti-choice agenda is more popular than it is" by carefully coordinating activists who "reinforce each other's work," establishing an "echo chamber effect";
  5. has been quietly receiving money from those who fund other right-wing groups and politicians—"a handful of conservative mega-donors such as the Betsy Devos and Rebekah Mercer families."

The report comes just a day ahead of the movement's annual so-called March for Life in Washington, D.C., which President Donald Trump is scheduled to attend. 

"With Trump in office and Neil Gorsuch in the Supreme Court," Hogue warns in the report, anti-choice activists "believe they're closer than ever to their ultimate goal of overturning Roe v. Wade."

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Jessica Corbett is a staff writer for Common Dreams. Follow her on Twitter: @corbett_jessica.