My friend Robin Marty has an article at Talking Points Memo about some serious infighting going on among the anti-choice groups in Georgia, pitting rabidly anti-abortion Republicans against even more rabid and extreme anti-abortion Republicans. And the shit’s getting real.
Here’s the background: Georgia Right to Life (GRTL), the state-based anti-abortion group that historically has held the most sway in the state of Georgia, but it’s been dealing with some heavy baggage this election cycle. With a highly combative GOP primary for an open Senate seat, the Republican primary candidates seem to be battling to see who can be the most extreme when it comes to opposing any form of abortion rights. For GRTL, this should be simple choice – with all candidates hostile to abortion, it would be hard to endorse a loser.
But simply being hostile to abortion is no longer good enough for GRTL. Unlike many of the National Right to Life affiliates across the country, GRTL has been a vocal proponent for complete abortion bans with no exceptions, not even in cases of rape, incest of a pregnant person’s health being in jeopardy. Their website openly and passionately advocates for a “Personhood” amendment, which would ban almost all forms of birth control. Many of the National Right to Life affiliates across the country, by contrast, argue against such a policy, fearing that an aggressive, highly unconstitutional ban on abortion and potentially hormonal birth control could backfire and reaffirm the right to an abortion codified in Roe v. Wade.
These deviations from the National Right to Life’s playbook that has given an opening to a new anti-abortion group. So far, Georgia Life Alliance is little more than a web landing page and an email sign up, but its goal is to be the new Georgia affiliate for National Right to Life, leaving GRTL out on its own.
That GRTL has angered its national umbrella is undeniable. GRTL fought against the mothership this summer when it argued that a politician who refused to vote in favor of the federal 20-week abortion ban because it had exceptions for rape victims was actually more pro-life than those who voted for the ban. The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) considered the ban a must-pass vote. GRTL continues to balk at the idea of the incremental strategies to overturn Roe championed by major anti-abortion policy groups like NRLC and Americans United for Life, instead advocating for all-out bans or nothing.
The arrival of a new anti-abortion advocacy group is a clear signal that it’s time for GRTL to conform to the rest of the National Right to Life team talking points, or go independent. If GRTL does so, it won’t be the first “pro-life” group to lose its NRLC affiliation. Cleveland Right to Life was cut off in 2013 after it decided to go rogue and join the fight against in the gay marriage, and was told to remove any claims from its website stating that it was affiliated with the National Right to Life organization. Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati was also ousted when it decided to back “personhood” a few years earlier. Still, neither were as big as a statewide affiliate like GRTL. Losing Right to Life affiliation to another anti-abortion organization, especially a start up, would be particularly mortifying.
When you get to the point of thinking that Right to Life is a compromised, squishy group of moderates, you’ve left rationality behind a loooooooooooooooooong time ago.