Leaders from Planned Parenthood Action Fund, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and People for the American Way penned a letter Thursday urging Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) to drop anti-choice activist Troy Newman from the GOP presidential candidate’s coalition over Newman’s violent rhetoric on reproductive health.
“While there are a number of coalition members whose records raise serious concerns, Troy Newman’s history of violent rhetoric and harassment toward women’s health providers is truly beyond the pale,” reads the open letter to Cruz.“Especially in an environment where anti-women’s health violence is on the rise, Newman’s extremism and violent rhetoric should be condemned, not given a platform by a major presidential campaign.”
The letter points to a recent report from the National Abortion Federation (NAF) that found “a dramatic increase in hate speech and internet harassment, death threats, attempted murder, and murder,” which coincided with the release of the Center for Medical Progress’ (CMP) deceptively edited videos smearing Planned Parenthood by accusing the health-care organization of illegally profiting from fetal tissue donations.
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“Cruz’s decision to give Troy Newman a formal role in his campaign is completely unacceptable. No person aspiring to be the next president of the United States should have anything to do with someone whose record of violent rhetoric includes calling for the execution of abortion providers,” Michael Keegan, president of People For the American Way, said in a statement. “And no politician should be allowed to pander to violent anti-choice extremists without being called out. With Ted Cruz’s all-important Indiana primary coming up, it’s past due for Cruz to fire Newman from his campaign team.”
Newman is one of Cruz’s most extreme allies, as Rewire has reported. Newman is the president of Operation Rescue, an anti-choice group that moved to Wichita, Kansas in 2002 to continue its campaign to intimidate abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, who was shot dead in 2009. Though Newman issued a statement condemning Tiller’s killer, the phone number of a member of Operation Rescue was found on the dashboard of the killer’s car.
Newman has his own history of violent rhetoric, having argued in his book Their Blood Cries Out that those who have abortions should be treated as murderers and that abortion care providers should be executed.
He was detained by Australian authorities in October after an Australian lawmaker raised concerns that Newman’s speaking tour would contribute to the “harassment and intimidation” of people trying to access reproductive health care in the country.
Nevertheless, Cruz praised Newman’s work after the extremist offered his endorsement in November. “We need leaders like Troy Newman in this country who will stand up for those who do not have a voice,” Cruz said.
Newman in January was appointed to co-chair Cruz’s anti-choice coalition, Pro-Lifers for Cruz.
“Troy Newman is an anti-choice extremist and misogynist ideologue who has argued that the murder of abortion providers is justified and that the attacks of 9/11 were retribution from God against legal abortion,” Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said in a statement condemning Newman’s extremism. “Troy Newman has no place in this campaign and I encourage Ted Cruz to surprise us all and send him packing.”