Personhood USA Talks Presidential Politics

Tonight the organization Personhood USA hosted a Presidential Forum via teleconference. Only the candidates who have signed the Pro-Life Pledge were in attendance – Romney and Huntsman were not. To be sure, this wasn’t the first right wing teleconference that I have listened in on and in keeping with what I had heard on others, my expectations were low. But this one was particularly pathetic. No new views, opinions or ideas were expressed and for the most part the candidates seemed to be unenthusiastic about the topic. They simply reiterated the same talking points and reinforced the false claim that this movement is “youth-driven.”

Perhaps the only interesting thing that I took away from this discussion was the sense that the entire pro-life side of the debate is significantly more concerned about religion than about fetuses. While science was brought up a few times, the majority of the discussion pivoted on the idea that pro-life is the Christian position, and that an attack on pro-life ideology is an attack on Christianity. Now, I’ve heard the personhood movement described by anti-choicers as a culture war before, but it was a bit shocking to hear potential Republican nominees discuss it in that manner.

The event opened with Lila Rose who, as usual, sounded more like a preacher than an activist. She used a lot of hyperbole to talk about her experience crafting hoax videos to try to make Planned Parenthood (the largest abortion chain in American – as Rose always adds) look bad. She didn’t say anything that she hasn’t already said. I swear, this girl has one speech memorized and she just repeats it! Still, I find it interesting that they include her, as she been so discredited publicly. It’s probably just because she’s young and they’re really trying to promote the idea that young people support the personhood concept – even though they overwhelmingly do not.

Ron Paul 

Is a pro-life libertarian. You would think that that’s a bit oxymoronic, but apparently it’s not. My dad told me this evening that today Rush Limbaugh was saying that he thinks Paul is really a socialist who was planted by the Democrats. Makes sense. Anyway, Paul used to deliver babies so he’s really quite fond of them. Apparently he needs to brush up on his medical terminology though – it’s a fetus, not a baby. He thinks life is super important, and he also knows that the Republican base cares about it. So, he recently launched a new pro-life ad. Frankly, I’m more interested to see how his libertarian followers justify this particular position than I am about what Paul thinks about it.

Rick Perry

Generally sounded like he was in pain. He was slow, off topic and didn’t really have a whole lot to say. I really think he has concluded his campaign, which is a shame because he’s adorable just like W. In his typical rambling style Perry stated that he supports a Personhood Amendment. He was asked about his former support for allowing exceptions for victims of rape or incest. No more! Apparently, after meeting with a woman who was conceived in rape he decided that it would be best that all women be forced to carry their abuser’s children to term. Also, Christmas strengthened this view for him. How sweet… He then took the opportunity to remind listeners of just how very Christian he is – God has been working on his heart! What? To remove it?

Michele Bachmann 

At first she wasn’t on the call, which gave the hosts the opportunity to talk more about God and how important it is for Christians to be pro-life, and to force it on everyone else as well. But once on, Bachmann took the opportunity to differentiate herself from the other candidates. According to Bachmann, she’s not just pro-life politically, but being pro-life is the core of her conviction. Now, for those of us who recognize that the pro-life position is all about controlling women, this statement basically read “I’m really anti-woman.” But hey, maybe it played better to the intended audience. She also chose to talk about religion here – making the claim that God is pro-life. Yeah yeah, God is a misogynist. We get it. Oh, and our Declaration of Independence is super pro-life, and although the Constitution arguably grants the right to privacy (which the Supreme Court decided meant even about medical stuff- like pregnancy) it’s super pro-life too. Obviously, as they were handed down to the founding fathers from God…or something.

Bachmann talked about how she was going to repeal Obamacare a lot. She also conflated medical abortions and emergency contraception, and argued that Obamacare meant that both would be sold in the bubble gum aisle of stores. Where is this store that has a whole aisle devoted to bubble gum? Is it in Minnesota? Because most the stores I go to sell it in the check out lane…

Oh, and in case you didn’t know – Bachmann has 5 kids and has had 23 foster kids. Which means it’s totally legit for her to take away women’s rights with a Personhood Amendment (which she supports). Mother knows best.

Rick Santorum 

Actually sounded like he might be a presidential candidate. But then he got a little bit distracted and started lecturing. Have you ever tried to listen to him? It’s really hard. He urged listeners to stop saying that they “believe” in things that are obviously fact. Like that God exists, is pro-life and wants to you caucus for Rick Santorum. Or that life begins at conception. Or that fetuses are more important than women. You don’t believe these things. They are facts.

Santorum really hates the trimester framework for thinking about abortion as established by the SCOTUS ruling of Roe v. Wade. For him, a 1 week old embryo is the exact same as an 8 month old fetus. He doesn’t believe this. This is fact.

Additionally, it is fact that “all God’s creatures should be protected.” Is Santorum vegan? Because if not I think he misspoke… And on the God note, Ricky went on to talk about how there’s this huge difference between the freedom of religion and the freedom of worship. He thinks that the freedom to worship is protected in the US, but not so much the freedom of religion. Because apparently the Christian religion is all about forcing Christian views on everyone, and here in America the government is a huge bully and doesn’t let Christians do their Christian thing.

Newt Gingrich 

Took this opportunity to remind everyone that he’s a historian. And to promote his website. And to remind people that he writes stuff and that you can read it on his website. He wants to pass a Personhood Amendment to the Constitution and make it very, very hard to remove. Or pass other legislation that’s very difficult to repeal. Basically, he wants to pounce on this faux-personhood movement to put something in law for everyone forever.

He’s also rabidly opposed to Planned Parenthood. Instead of helping women prevent pregnancy, he wants to use that money to push poor and young women to give their children up for adoption. You know, so wealthy, white Christian parents can raise them – as God intended. He also wants to cut reproductive health funds to foreign countries. You hear that Africa? No more aid for fighting HIV/AIDS! He also thinks victims of rape or incest should toughen up, do the Christian thing and give birth to the offspring of their abusers. It’s what Jesus would do! Oh, and if you didn’t know, Newt is a historian and you can learn more about that on his website.

The forum ended with the host remarking that he felt that the candidates “did the best they can.” And if that’s true than these people have pretty low expectations. There was a bit more talk about the importance of Christian voters, a lot of talk about God and I even heard these white guys drop a couple “brothas.” Truthfully, the whole thing seemed a lot more like a youth group meeting than any type of political discussion. Then again, this is the Christian right we’re talking about.

And if you’ve never had the privilege to go to an evangelical youth event, they’re much like the video below – without the hilarious Jewish girl. 


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