A who’s who of activists known for their extreme views on abortion held a press conference Thursday in defense of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore amid allegations that Moore abused and harassed teenage girls.
Janet Porter, the president of anti-choice group Faith2Action behind the “heartbeat” legislation at the state and federal level that promises to outlaw legal abortion, led the event. Addressing the crowd, she noted that the Moore campaign did not organize the press conference and the group of speakers “had actually called the campaign” and had asked Moore to come. Porter, who is considered too extreme for Christian talk radio, claimed that the allegations were part of a “firing squad to assassinate his character,” referring to the Republican candidate. “If the left can try to assassinate the character of Judge Roy Moore, then none of us is safe,” she said.
Rusty Thomas, director of the radical anti-choice group Operation Save America, told the attendees that he had appeared in order to support Moore “without hesitation” when contacted about it. “You need to know judge, you do not stand alone,” Thomas said. The anti-choice activist had already donated to Moore’s campaign.
Flip Benham, who formerly directed Operation Save America, appeared at the event in defense of Moore. He criticized the United States for allowing same-sex marriage and legal abortion. Benham noted that if he “had to go back 40 years and look back at” his past, he too “would be in serious trouble.”
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“When we get close to overturning Roe v. Wade, the pro-abortion side comes out with every trick in the book, every dirty trick in the book, every dirty tactic they can think of,” said Andy Schlafly, an attorney for Phyllis Schlafly Eagles and the son of notorious Equal Rights Amendment opponent Phyllis Schlafly. He added that “we need someone in the Senate” like Moore for his “strength of character.”
Porter released a statement prior to the press conference pointing to Moore’s hardline opposition to abortion rights as a reason for her support of the Senate candidate. “I trust Judge Roy Moore,” she said. “Judge Moore has been a personal friend and a friend of life for decades,” she continued, criticizing Moore’s opponent, Democrat Doug Jones, for his pro-choice views.
Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, has monitored Porter’s work at the state and federal level. The Faith2Action leader’s latest move didn’t come as a surprise.
“The American people should know that anti-choice leaders like Janet Porter will support anyone regardless of what they have done to women or others in their quest to outlaw abortion,” Copeland told Rewire.
Porter orchestrated an Ohio GOP attempt to end legal abortion as early as six weeks into a pregnancy—before many people know they’re pregnant. The “moderate” Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) vetoed the total abortion ban in favor of an equally unconstitutional 20-week ban, but Republican legislators have resurrected it as a pending bill in the current legislative session.
Porter subsequently convinced Rep. Steve King (R-IA), an unabashed white nationalist, to debut the federal version in Congress while both attended the funeral of Phyllis Schlafly, as People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch first reported.
Porter’s leadership of the Moore press conference aligns with her increasingly prominent role on the national stage. Porter ran two Capitol Hill press conferences for King, the most recent after King’s contentious hearing on the total abortion ban. And she partnered with Tom DeLay, the former U.S. House of Representatives majority leader convicted on campaign finance violations that were later overturned on appeal, to lobby Vice President Mike Pence and his staff.
Porter and activists who spoke at the event are among many anti-choice leaders who have steadfastly supported Moore despite the allegations against him. Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, told Rewire last week that allegations of sexual misconduct against Moore were “far-left baloney” and “absolutely ridonkulous.”
Moore, who has denied the allegations that he abused minors, said at the conference that it was an “honor” to have the support of those who spoke on his behalf.