Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and other abortion rights groups are calling on Ted Cruz to fire the co-chair of his national “Pro-Lifers for Cruz” coalition who has said that abortion providers should be executed.
Troy Newman, who endorsed Cruz last year, wrote in his 2003 book that the entire country is “blood-guilty” for its failure to kill “abortionists.” In January, Cruz announced that Newman, the president of the far-right anti-abortion group Operation Rescue and a board member of the Center for Medical Progress, would be leading his campaign’s anti-abortion crusade.
Thursday’s open letter, signed by Planned Parenthood Action Fund, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and People for the American Way, urges Cruz to remove Newman from the campaign.
“There are wide-ranging beliefs about abortion in our country, but no one who has said it’s the government’s duty to execute abortion providers should have any place in a campaign for our nation’s highest office,” the letter reads.
In a statement, NARAL President Ilyse Hogue called Newman “an anti-choice extremist and misogynist ideologue who has argued that the murder of abortion providers is justified and that the attacks of 9/11 were retribution from God against legal abortion.”
Newman has argued that his book was just a “theological study” and that his writing does not constitute “advocating violence.” But then in 2003, he criticized the conviction of Paul Hill for murdering a Florida abortion doctor, saying that Hill should have been allowed to argue in court that “the killing of the abortionist was necessary to save the lives of the pre-born babies that were scheduled to be killed by abortion that day.”
After Republican frontrunner Donald Trump said last month that women who have abortions should be punished, he faced sharp criticism from both sides of the aisle and almost immediately backed away from the remark. Cruz himself has never explicitly called for punishing women who seek abortions, but he has yet to condemn Newman, who has said that a woman who has an abortion should be considered a “murderer” and a “contract killer.”
Instead, Cruz has touted Newman’s endorsement, saying in a statement in November that Newman “works tirelessly every day for the pro-life cause.”
Last year, Australia deported Newman, refusing to allow him into the country on a speaking tour after politicians raised concerns that he might encourage violence against abortion providers or women seeking the procedure.
In their letter this week, the abortion rights groups argue that Newman’s removal from Cruz’ campaign is essential given the recent extreme uptick in violence, threats and disruption to abortion providers and clinics. In 2015, there were 94 direct threats of harm to abortion providers, up from only one case in 2014. There were also nine murder attempts reported in 2015, according to a recent report by the National Abortion Federation.
Planned Parenthood has also accused Cruz of contributing to the “toxic environment” that has provoked attacks against abortion providers. Cruz is one of the leading lawmakers to go after and attempt to defund the women’s health organization in the Senate, saying there is “no doubt” it was caught “selling baby parts” in the Center for Medical Progress’ controversial, discredited videos. Planned Parenthood shooter, Robert Lewis Dear, reportedly told authorities “no more baby parts” after he killed three people at a clinic in Colorado Springs last November.
The groups’ letter to the Cruz campaign comes just one day after the Texas senator named Carly Fiorina to be his hypothetical vice presidential pick, a move that he hoped would help him appeal to women turned off by Trump’s sexist rhetoric. In a statement yesterday, Planned Parenthood Action Fund Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens warned about what a Cruz and Fiorina ticket would mean for women’s access to health care.
“Together, they form the most loathsome pair in America,” she said.