Anti-choice activists are baselessly questioning election results and lamenting a massive blow to their agenda after Democrat Doug Jones’ stunning victory against Republican Roy Moore in Alabama’s special election for the U.S. Senate Tuesday.
Many in the media suggested Jones’ pro-choice views could keep him from winning the race, and Moore attempted to use the issue to distract from allegations that he sexually abused a minor and engaged in inappropriate behavior with other young women. Moore’s radical views on abortion, which include support for so-called personhood legislation that would criminalize abortion and ban some forms of contraception, made him a favorite of anti-choice advocates. Many leaders in the movement to outlaw abortion care continued to support him in the face of the allegations of sexual misconduct.
As Moore refuses to concede the race to Jones, many in the anti-choice community are grappling with the ramifications of losing Jeff Sessions’ former Senate seat.
Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, blamed Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for Moore’s loss in a Wednesday press release, calling on the Senate majority leader to step down and claiming that Congress would no longer be able to pass anti-choice legislation after Moore’s defeat.”It is my opinion that Sen. Mitch McConnell heavily contributed to Moore’s defeat, and because that led to giving a seat away to a pro-abortion Democrat, he should resign immediately,” he said.
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“McConnell has ensured that pro-life legislation will never pass, Planned Parenthood will never be defunded, and babies that can feel pain will continue to be aborted after the mid-point of pregnancy,” Newman said in his statement, referring to the GOP’s attempts to pass a 20-week abortion ban based on the unsupported claim that a fetus feels pain at that point in a pregnancy.
Newman, who is notorious for using violent and extreme rhetoric to discuss abortion and for co-founding the discredited anti-choice front group known as the Center for Medical Progress, was a vocal supporter of Moore’s campaign. He stood by the Alabama Republican amid allegations that Moore sexually abused a minor and behaved inappropriately with other young women.
Rusty Thomas, national director of Operation Save America—the group that made headlines this year when it spent a week protesting in front of Kentucky’s last abortion clinic—said the race may not be over. “Apparently, Alabama did not count all the votes, like the military vote that is traditionally Republican,” Thomas wrote in a Wednesday post to his Facebook page. “As a result, Roy Moore will not concede until there is a recount. This may not be over brethren.”
Thomas spoke on Moore’s behalf at a November press conference, telling the crowd that he continued to support the Republican “without hesitation” despite the flood of allegations against him.
Matt Trewhella, whose endorsement was touted on Moore’s campaign site, took to social media to encourage supporters not to give up the cause. “The Democrats and Republicans are all happy by the Potomac – Moore has lost and Bannon suffers a blow in his cause to destroy the GOP Establishment,” he wrote in a post to his Facebook page. “Business as usual in DC. – status quo maintained. Don’t lose your fight however – stay true to Christ and rally the lesser magistrates! Tomorrow’s another day.”
Trewhella signed a statement in the early 1990s saying the murder of an abortion care provider was “justifiable.” Though he later withdrew his name from the statement, a 1994 investigation by Newsweek described Trewhella as “a mentor for potentially violent anti-abortion extremists.”
Cal Zastrow, an anti-choice activist connected to Operation Save America and co-founder of Personhood USA, claimed—without evidence—that voter fraud could have played a role in the results. “Please pray with us that all voter fraud will be exposed during the recount,” he wrote on his Facebook page. Voter fraud has been proven tonot be prevalent in the United States, and it is often used as a baseless excuse to erect barriers to the ballot box.
American Family Association Action and the Family Research Council, both of which supported Moore’s campaign, did not respond to Rewire’s requests for comment.