Americans woke up last Wednesday morning to a new reality: Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark legislation granting a woman a right to an abortion, was violently under attack through the passage of a new “heartbeat bill” in Texas.
That law—which bans abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy, makes no exception for rape or incest, and allows private citizens to sue anyone who performs or aids a woman in getting an abortion—is the first so-called heartbeat bill to have become law and actually be enforced. The Supreme Court did not swoop in and prevent the law’s enforcement as some had hoped: That evening, the top court allowed the law to stand in a 5-4 decision, with the five right-wing lawmakers firmly in camp against Roe simply claiming it was a procedural issue that abortion providers had not addressed, voting in effect for Texan women to lose the right to abortion provided under Roe.
For Janet Porter, the Texas law was a dream come true. The longtime religious-right activist took to Rumble, a posterboard of her book, “A Heartbeat Away,” propped up in the background as she announced the news. “That makes Texas the first state in the nation to actually enforce their heartbeat law of the 14 states who have passed them,” she told the camera.
“Grasp this for a moment,” she said, ecstatic, a smile spread across her face, her hands gesturing in excitement. “There is a place in the United States where nearly every child facing abortion is now legally protected. It is historic.”
“Today in Texas, if a heartbeat is detected, the baby is protected,” she said. “Soon, the nation will follow.”
Porter is often seen as the mastermind behind so-called heartbeat legislation, which bans women from having abortions after a “heartbeat” is detected—as early as six weeks in some cases and, for many women, before they’re aware that they are pregnant. Medical experts say the term “fetal heartbeat” is scientifically inaccurate, noting that at six weeks, the embryo—which is not yet a fetus—will have not yet developed a heart. But the term “fetal heartbeat” pulls at heartstrings, and its marketability, for a lack of better term, has Porter to thank.
While Porter has made restricting access abortion her main priority, the longtime religious-right activist’s extremism has been well documented on these pages. As Barack Obama ran for president in 2008, Porter took to her radio program to spread the racist birther conspiracy theory championed by Donald Trump. Once Obama was elected, the conspiracies didn’t stop: As Right Wing Watch reported, she falsely claimed “Obama would orchestrate food shortages to starve conservatives to death, use a swine flu outbreak as an excuse to lock them up in concentration camps, and use Obamacare to deny them healthcare and eliminate them.” On the pages of World Net Daily, a far-right conspiracy website, she frequently penned columns—her last, published Dec. 11, 2020, refused to accept Trump’s loss in the 2020 election.
When she wasn’t spreading noxious conspiracy theories, the activist was attempting to beat back the advance of gay rights, claiming Christians would be labeled criminals, rounded up, and tossed in jail if gay people had rights. She also trumpeted “conversion therapy,” a range of dangerous and discredited practices meant to change one’s sexual orientation, and was labeled the “The Architect of the ‘Conversion Therapy’ Campagin” by the New York Times. The activist, purportedly so concerned about the lives of children, even served as a spokeswoman for Roy Moore, the former Alabama chief justice who unsuccessfully ran for Senate, defending him after he was accused of child molestation and attacking the woman who accused him.
At the heart of Porter’s activism is an effort to spread a fundamentalist version of Christianity. In 2010, her views became so extreme that VCY, the Christian radio station broadcasting her show, canceled it, citing “the drift of the program toward ‘dominion’ theology”—that is, the idea that Christians are called to take complete control over every aspect of human life in order to bring about the return of Christ. Among those aspects of human life: abortion and women’s bodies.
And so in 2011, Porter, working as the head of anti-choice group Faith2Action, found an Ohio state legislator, Rep. Lynn Wachtmann, R-Napoleon, to champion legislation she had drafted to restrict access to abortion. The Ohio bill was the first “heartbeat bill” of its kind and so extreme—limiting abortion at the detection of a “heartbeat,” making no exceptions for incest or rape—that other anti-choice groups and legislators balked at it. Questioning the constitutionality of such a measure, they wondered whether the legislation would do more harm than good for their cause. Supporters of the bill said incremental steps weren’t working and were eager to directly challenge Roe. Porter herself was explicit about her goal, stating in 2017, that her “heartbeat bill” was “the foot in the door” to totally outlawing abortion.
“It was not my original idea, but I’ve been a pro-life leader here in Columbus for 26 years, and I’m committed to pushing the courts as far as we can go to protect human life, and that’s clearly what this bill is all about,” Wachtmann stated in February 2011 shortly before he introduced the bill.
At that point, Faith2Action already had a full-throttle pressure campaign underway to get the legislation passed. Under Porter’s leadership, the group urged its supporters to send heart-shaped red balloons to the Ohio governor and state representatives ahead of Valentine’s Day, “encouraging their support of the Heartbeat Bill” and to “Have a Heart!”—a message Porter repeated in a column for the far-right WND site. The bill passed in the state House later that year.
When the legislation stalled in the state Senate in 2012, Faith2Action took out a full-page ad in the Columbus Dispatch and made thousands of robocalls asking its supporters to contact state senators. That ad featured Dr. John Willke, founder of the National Right to Life and another sponsor of the bill. Revered in anti-abortion rights circles, Willke had perpetuated the false myth that a woman’s body can resist conception in rape, which may be among the reasons why the bill did not provide exceptions for abortion in case of rape. Another is that Porter doesn’t think women should be allowed to have any abortion, stating in 2017, “We’re not for killing any child, especially an innocent child for the crime of his father.”
The bill had wide support among religious-right figures both in state and out of state. An archived version of Faith2Action’s site for the bill lists E.W. Jackson, Samuel Rodriguez, Mat Staver, James Robison, Rick Joyner, Wendy Wright, Ken Blackwell, Jay Sekulow, Tony Perkins, James Dobson, and Frank Pavone as supporters. It also featured a list of current and former elected officials: former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Rep. Jim Jordan (then an Ohio state legislator), Rep. Louie Gohmert, former Sen. Rick Santorum, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, former Rep. Michele Bachmann, then Rep. Steve King, and former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.
When the bill did reach then Gov. John Kasich, he vetoed it twice, preferring to sign another strict abortion ban at 12 weeks and citing constitutionality issues with the “heartbeat” legislation. But the bill found a champion in his Republican successor, Gov. Mike DeWine, who signed Ohio’s “heartbeat bill” into law in 2019 before Planned Parenthood and abortion clinics represented by the American Civil Liberties Union sued. A federal judge issued a temporary stay on the abortion ban and extended it again this spring.
A slew of red states followed suit, passing their own “heartbeat” abortion bans. The legislation mostly faced the same fate as the Ohio law—that is, except for Texas.
The Texas law provides a loophole those others did not: Instead of the state attorney general or other state officials enforcing the law, the law explicitly prevents state governments from enforcing it and essentially deputizes every citizen to sue anyone who performs an abortion or aids a woman in getting one. That leaves abortion clinics at a loss of who to sue. The purpose by the law’s drafters: to prevent intervention from federal courts.
So when the Supreme Court had a chance to stay the legislation, the conservative majority essentially said that the nation’s top court had its hands tied, that abortion providers in the state had not addressed the “complex and novel” procedural questions and would have to do so before the Supreme Court would take it up.
The Texas law also provides a bounty to incentivize enforcement: Any person who successfully sues would get $10,000 and their legal fees covered. Defendants who are successful are not entitled to have their legal fees covered, and anyone who aided a woman in getting an abortion could be sued multiple times. The effect is that most if not all clinics in the state have stopped providing abortions after six weeks for fear of bankruptcy.
The Texas law was sponsored by Texas state Sen. Bryan Hughes, who asked conservative litigator Jonathan F. Mitchell how anti-abortion legislation could avoid the fate of other “heartbeat bills” that languished without enforcement after federal judges issued injunctions. Mitchell, a former Texas solicitor general and active member of the Federalist Society, was already steeped in the religious-right effort to overturn Roe, representing towns sued by the ACLU over their ordinances that made abortion a crime. In 2017, while working alongside with Alliance Defending Freedom on a case about religious freedom, he trotted out a theory that he’d go on to use in Texas, claiming that no matter how unconstitutional a law was, if it did not charge a state official with the duty of enforcement, it couldn’t produce a federal lawsuit. Mitchell would become the primary architect of the Texas abortion law’s private-enforcement provision.
“We knew we had to have another way,” said Hughes, according to the Wall Street Journal. “We were going to find a way to pass a heartbeat bill that was going to be upheld.”
It’s unclear how much Porter, who was a supporter of the Texas law, had to do with this particular loophole, but the drafters of that particular bill have Porter’s popularization of the “heartbeat bill” to thank and the religious right’s decades-long campaign to overturn Roe of which she was a part.
National religious-right organizations, like ADF, have championed a state-by-state approach to chip away at the landmark legislation. This spring, the Supreme Court announced it will hear a case about a Mississippi law banning abortions at 15 weeks, a law that was based on ADF’s model legislation and a major threat to a woman’s right to an abortion. But so far, no effort has dealt as big of a blow to Roe as has Porter’s “heartbeat” legislation. Already, other states are considering a law based on Texas’ version of the “heartbeat bill.”
As she celebrated last Wednesday, Porter, too, looked forward.
“The National Association of Christian Lawmakers just adopted the Texas version of the heartbeat law as their model legislation,” she said, a smile dancing across her face between sentences. “That means we’re about to see a lot more heartbeat bills become law and actually get enforced.”
This article was originally published by Right Wing Watch and is republished here by permission .
Image: Screenshot via Right Wing Watch/Twitter
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‘Sodom and Gomorrah’: ND Republican Unleashes Anti-LGBTQ Christian Nationalist Rant Calling for ‘Christ Is King’ Laws
North Dakota state Representative Brandon Prichard, a Republican who co-sponsored legislation that was passed in to law that bans all gender confirming surgeries and medication for minors in his state, went on an anti-LGBTQ Christian nationalist tirade including a call for state ordinances to declare “Jesus Christ is King.”
“Every conservative state should put into code that Jesus Christ is King and dedicate their state to Him. Force RINOs to say no to Jesus and then brutalize them in elections. We need a government of Christians, not fakers,” wrote Rep. Pritchard Sunday evening.
Pushback came swiftly, from politicos including former Republican and former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, who responded saying, “Not in this country. Never. Our Constitution won’t allow it. And that’s a damn good thing. Shame on you.”
Rep. Pritchard’s remarks in recent days have taken on a similarly strong Christian nationalist theme.
“Here is a simple test to determine if you are conservative: Should the church of Satan or satanic temple be allowed the freedom to worship in the same way as Christians? If you answer yes, you need to rethink your claimed political identity because you are not conservative,” he wrote Friday.
Later that same day he added, “Real conservatives will never put the constitution above natural law. The constitution is only useful insofar as it forces our government to limit power and pursue objective truth. It is a powerful means to an end, nothing more, nothing less.”
Over the weekend Pritchard issued a call to ban pornography, saying it “serves no positive benefit in society, destroys men, and treats women as objects.”
A social media account that appears to be for the adult site Just for Fans mocked him, writing on social media, “If you want to cancel an account, please contact our customer service department.”
Also over the weekend Pritchard called for any Republican who thinks children should be allowed to attend drag shows be “censured or expelled from the party.”
He then wrote he was “extremely disappointed” with North Dakota State University “over their decision to have two homecoming kings and NO homecoming queen. People will be mad when I introduce a bill next session to say that state-funded schools cannot pick homecoming royalty of the same sex, but I didn’t start the fight.”
Pritchard also declared, “All schools should have LGBTQ history taught and lesson one should be Sodom and Gomorrah.”
Monday morning the lawmaker claimed, “All I want is to buy some land, raise a family, and mind my own business. Everything changes when you realize the left is militantly against this existence and will do everything to destroy our families and religion. We must take power or risk being controlled, it’s simple.”
The North Dakota state constitution requires lawmakers to take an oath that reads: “‘I do solemnly swear (or affirm as the case may be) that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of North Dakota; and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of _________ according to the best of my ability, so help me God’ (if an oath), (under pains and penalties of perjury) if an affirmation, and any other oath, declaration, or test may not be required as a qualification for any office or public trust.”
‘Why So Much Hate From You?’: Mark Cuban Smacks Down Stephen Miller, Twice
A far-right wing pundit’s decision to go after a 29-year old woman’s TikTok video about her plans for a relaxing Saturday during a holiday weekend sparked a firestorm between billionaire businessman and TV personality Mark Cuban and former Trump White House aide Stephen Miller, with the woman revealing later some of the hate she received after being made a target.
It all started when “Theocratic fascist” Matt Walsh, as he calls himself, reposted a TikTok video on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter, from a woman who says she’s “29 and single, and I don’t have kids yet.” The woman, identified by Mediaite as Julia Mazur, told her followers she slept in Saturday morning, woke up with a hangover and didn’t get up until 10:15 AM, after going to a Beyoncé concert the night before.
Mazur described her upcoming day, saying she enjoys not having plans, kids, a husband, or errands, and loves going wherever the day takes her. She was looking forward to watching some streaming shows on Netflix and Hulu, and possibly learning how to make shakshuka.
“I wouldn’t want to do anything else this Saturday,” she said happily.
Walsh responded to Mazur’s casual celebration of a joyous weekend by saying, “Her life doesn’t revolve around her family and kids so instead it revolves around TV shows and pop stars. Worst of all she’s too stupid to realize how depressing this is.”
“If you don’t have a family at least do something interesting with your time,” Walsh continued. “These people have absurd amounts of free time and they do absolutely nothing with it. Wasting their lives staring at little glowing boxes. Absolutely soul crushing.”
Her life doesn’t revolve around her family and kids so instead it revolves around TV shows and pop stars. Worst of all she’s too stupid to realize how depressing this is.
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) September 3, 2023
Cuban stepped in, snarking on Walsh: “Says the guy who’s life revolves around Twitter/X.”
“How do you know she isnt trying to make it her job ? She has really good engagement and increasing numbers,” Cuban added.
That’s when Miller jumped in.
“You have a large following,” Miller, the architect of the Trump administration’s family separation policy, began. “People listen to your advice. What would you say is a more fulfilling path for adults: starting a family, or sleeping late and watching TV? What advice would you give to someone who suggests they wish to be childless so they can stream more shows?”
“Thanks for asking Stephen,” Cuban said in his lengthy response, which included him saying Mazur having a family or not is “none of my fucking business.”
He also asked Miller, “what happened that causes you to hate so much. Seriously Stephen. Why so much hate from you?”:
“1. I wouldn’t give her advice unless she asked. 2. After looking at the comments to her posts, I would thank her for offering a place for people who can relate to her, to engage and have a conversation. She replies to the comments and based on that, people seem to appreciate it 3. From a business perspective, I would tell her that the Wellness Space is crowded but if she does this in addition to her job, she might be able to build a nice business. 4. As far as a family. I would tell her to do whatever she thinks is best for her. It’s none of my fucking business 5. If I had you both in a room , I would point at her and thank her for trying to bring joy to others and I would point at you and ask what happened that causes you to hate so much. Seriously Stephen. Why so much hate from you?”
The exchange didn’t end there.
“In the interests of time I will respond with two points,” Miller replied. “1. No society can succeed where the constant message from our elites leaders is do whatever the hell you want and don’t worry about children. Children are simply the most important thing in the whole world and the foundation of civilization and all human flourishing. 2. Could you be more specific with your crass (and, I think you would acknowledge, unprovoked) smear on point 5? The issue/work with which I’m arguably most associated, stopping human smuggling and trafficking, is quite literally about saving human lives.”
Cuban replied, in an even lengthier response that included saying, “What any individual does in terms of having children or not is their choice. Full Stop.”
“Maybe I’m wrong , but if one of those children is born to an illegal immigrant, my understanding is that you do not want to help them and you want to deport them ?” he added, calling that “hateful.”
Ultimately, Mazur posted another video, detailing some of the hate messages she’s received since Walsh’s initial post.
Walsh’s platform often revolves around attacking the LGBTQ community, including especially transgender girls and women, He has been included in reporting on white Christian nationalism, and “far-right media instigators.” He also recently warned, “whites are trending towards extinction in the United States.”
Mazur said Walsh’s followers told her, “I should actually die and never leave my house. I should be sexually assaulted,” she said, adding she was told, “I’m a whore.”
“These people were really really really riled up about my choices,” she said.
But Mazur concluded, “life’s too short figuring out what Matt Walsh wants us to do.”
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) September 4, 2023
Watch the videos above or at this link.
Image of Mark Cuban via Shutterstock
Liberal Fox News Co-Host Destroys Conservatives’ Claims the Right Holds the Majority Opinion on Culture War Issues
Fox News co-host Jessica Tarlov, the lone liberal on the the right-wing cable channel’s very popular afternoon show “The Five,” destroyed her conservative co-hosts’ talking points on a wide variety of culture war issues.
Behind a chyron of “Tyranny of the Minority” – related to remark made by Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy – Tarlov on Wednesday fed facts to the conservatives who tried to claim the majority of Americans oppose the right to choose an abortion, and the majority of Americans do not support transgender people.
“On the trans issue, for instance,” Tarlov offered, “our own Fox polling shows that 57% of Americans think that trans kids and their families being the target of political attacks, as in these anti-trans bills, is a major problem.”
“When you look at the actual numbers of kids that are, for instance, they have gender dysphoria, and they’re getting top surgery. How many kids do you think got top surgery last year?” she asked, not receiving a response from any of her co-hosts.
“Under 300,” answered Tarlov, who “holds two Master’s degrees in political science and public policy, as well as a Ph.D. in Government from the London School of Economics and Political Science,” according to Variety.
“Then think about an issue that’s really important to Democrats –” she suggested, trying to continue before co-host Greg Gutfeld interjected, asking: “Children?”
“Minors,” she responded, referring to the question of top surgery.
“That’s an atrocity,” Gutfeld declared. “But continue,” he added, laughing.
“But over 5800 kids were victims of gun violence, for instance,” Tarlov pointed out. “I don’t hear Republicans talking about that. Tyranny of the minority –” she again tried to continue before Gutfeld interrupted.
“Oh, what a false comparison,” he snarked.
“It absolutely isn’t,” responded Tarlov. “It’s a priority on the right to talk about trans issues, a priority on the left to talk about gun violence. Which affects more people?” she asked.
“Abortion is another instance of the tyranny of the minority,” Tarlov continued. “I get it, federalism – you send it back to the states where a group of elected officials have decided, for instance, in like Texas, Louisiana, that women should not be able to get abortions after six weeks. We have women that are bleeding out, going into sepsis. In Louisiana, a woman was forced to carry a baby that had no skull.”
Gutfeld, apparently outraged, screamed, “What does this have to do with this topic?”
“What are you talking about?” she replied. “This is, he says tyranny of the minority.”
“But that had to do with LGBTQ,” Jeanine Pirro interjected, “not with all of your favorite issues.”
“He’s running to be president of the United States of America,” Tarlov argued.
“But that’s not what we’re talking about, we’re talking about – I asked you specifically about pronouns,” Pirro complained.
“And I said he was wrong to act as if the GOP is the party of the majority opinion – they are not. They’re taking minority positions and running with them,” Tarlov explained.
An agitated Gutfeld again interjected, “Pro-life isn’t a minority position.”
“It is, actually,” she replied.
“What, are you gonna talk about the fact that it’s like 48%,” Gutfeld, hands raised, again snarked.
“No, I’m going to talk about the 69% – it’s the highest it’s ever been recorded – that now support abortion at least through the first trimester,” she replied. “And what’s happening then in Ohio and Kansas and Kentucky.”
“What’s the Democrat stance on abortion?” Gutfeld asked.
“That it’s between a woman and her doctor to make those decisions,” she said.
“No, what’s the what’s the cut off?” Gutfeld asked. “Is that what you call that tyranny of minority as well?”
Frustrated, Gutfeld added, “I think the logic here is that you’re slicing these issues –”
“Are you talking about, ‘we want to kill live babies’?” Tarlov asked, referring to conservative talking points.
“I didn’t say that,” Gutfeld replied.
“I’m just pointing out that this isn’t actually the right argument, but go ahead,” he offered, before Pirro took over and said, “I’d like to get back to the issue.”
Watch below or at this link.
You can tell Jessica Tarlov hit a nerve here by how Judge Jeanine and Gutfeld reacted — especially when she points out how out of step the GOP is on abortion and other issues while simultaneously railing about the “tyranny of the minority” regarding trans kids. pic.twitter.com/IY1tnmaGVP
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) August 16, 2023
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