Hate Groups Join Texas Anti-Choice Lobbying Campaign

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Hate Groups Join Texas Anti-Choice Lobbying Campaign

Teddy Wilson

The Family Research Council, identified as an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, has joined the push to ban the most common type of second trimester abortion care in Texas.

Texas Right to Life has enlisted 15 organizations, including hate groups, in lobbying Texas lawmakers to pass a ban on the most common type of second trimester abortion care.

SB 415 and HB 844, sponsored by  state Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) and Rep. Stephanie Klick (R-Fort Worth), would prohibit a person from performing what anti-choice activists have called “dismemberment abortion” and what evidence-based medical professionals call dilation and evacuation (D and E), which is also used after miscarriages.

Texas Right to Life officials have made the anti-choice measure their top priority during the 85th Texas legislative session. Texas Right to Life in a letter encouraged state lawmakers to “become involved in the passage of this vital measure.”

Bills criminalizing the D and E procedure were created by the National Right to Life Committee, an anti-choice legislation mill and the parent organization of Texas Right to Life. Lawmakers have pushed the measure in GOP-held legislatures, including in South Dakota, where a panel of Republicans on Wednesday voted down the measure. Reproductive rights advocates said South Dakota lawmakers may have been deterred by the prospect of expensive litigation.

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Among the names included in the letter to Texas state lawmakers was Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council (FRC). Perkins is an anti-LGBTQ activist who has aided extremist anti-choice groups.

FRC has been identified as an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a nonprofit civil rights organization that tracks hate groups. The council has a long history of making “false claims about the LGBT community based on discredited research and junk science,” according to SPLC.

Jared Woodfill, president of the Conservative Republicans of Texas (CRT), was among the names included in the Texas Right to Life letter to state lawmakers. The organization, with a self-described mission to “advance Constitutional liberties based upon Biblical principles,” has also been identified by SPLC as an anti-LGBTQ hate group.

Woodfill recently represented David Daleiden, head of the anti-choice front group called the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), who in January 2016 was indicted on a felony charge related to the production of discredited and heavily edited videos alleging Planned Parenthood was illegally profiting from fetal tissue donations. Republican legislators across the country have cited CMP videos as justification for a number of restrictions on abortion care, including in Texas during the recent Senate Health and Human Services Committee hearing on a trio of anti-choice bills.

State Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) told committee members that the CMP videos proved Planned Parenthood had profited from the sale of fetal tissue, and that the videos justified new regulations on abortion providers. Investigations launched by GOP lawmakers into Planned Parenthood’s fetal tissue use have shown no wrongdoing on the part of the health-care organization. 

Steven Hotze, founder and former president of CRT with a long history of anti-LGBTQ activismduring a recent conference compared members of the LGBTQ community to “termites” and Soviet infiltrators sent to “eat away at the very moral fabric” of the country.

Hotze bankrolled the successful campaign to repeal Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), which was passed by the Houston City Council to provide protections for LGBTQ people.

The Texas Right to Life letter was also signed by prominent anti-choice leaders such as Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee; Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List; the Rev. Frank Pavone, national director of the Priests for Life; and Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League.

Texas anti-choice leaders who added their names to the letter included Jim Graham, president of the Texas Right to Life Committee; Kristie Rutledge, president of Corpus Christi Right to Life; and Cindy Asmussen, ethics and religious liberty adviser for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

SB 415 is awaiting further action by the Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee, and HB 844 was this week referred to the House Committee on State Affairs.