It was the beginning of February when we first heard of Proposal 16. It came out of nowhere and it seemed that nobody had an idea of who was behind it. We’ve spent the past few weeks researching, and now present you with the 5 W’s (What, Who, Where, When, and Why) of Proposal 16. Grab your favorite drink, this might get long.
Proposal 16 supporters claim that Governor Bentley can sign an executive order banning abortion in Alabama, and there’s not a thing the federal government can do about it. They cite states that have legalized marijuana as examples of nullifications to existing federal laws. They also mention that Wisconsin ignored federal legislation that stated slaves had to be returned to their masters in the Civil War era. (It may seem odd that they would reference this, but it is not unusual – anti choice folks have a penchant for co-opting movements orchestrated by people of color.)
This was probably the hardest part of figuring this mess out. Proposal 16 appears to be spearheaded by Samuel McLure, an adoption attorney (no conflict of interest there, right?) out of Birmingham, Alabama. A search indicated that he was formerly a clerk for a financial firm, along with the Alabama Attorney General & Supreme Court of Alabama. His current practice in adoptions led to this unusual sentence in describing his work:
“…to investigate and pursue strategic opportunities to protect orphans from evil.”
Weird, right? Not so weird when you know he is vehemently anti-LGBTQ*. But more on that later.
For someone that claims such experience in the legal field, a basic Google search doesn’t turn up much information. Our volunteers who have several years of experience at the Legislature say that they’ve never seen him there in conjunction with previous anti abortion bills. However; some of us do remember his face from all of the Roy Moore related shenanigans/protests/rallies in the past year. He certainly wasn’t on our side of the Roy Moore fiasco(s). So, we did what everyone else does – went to Facebook to find out more about this man and the organization he’s hawking.
When not posting videos of himself working out (narcissist much?) or his beginner’s guitar lessons (stick with it buddy, you’ll get better!), it’s Proposal 16 all the time. One of the first posts of concern was this one:
That’s right – Operation Save America is tied into this. In case you’re not familiar with them, they are an extremist anti abortion and anti LGBTQ* group who have protested at all of Alabama’s abortion clinics. OSA (as they’re known) held their annual “gathering” in Montgomery in 2015, attempting to terrorize the staff & patients for eight days, along with the residents of the city. (They also co-opted civil rights language and the 50th anniversary of the Selma march.) Those of us in the abortion or LGBT advocacy field know if OSA is involved in Alabama, so is Roy Moore. Those tidbits we mentioned previously are starting to add up now, aren’t they?
In addition to OSA and Roy Moore, it looks like they’re also tight with a “hipster” anti abortion guy named Jeff Durbin. Yes, he is as awful as you think. At least OSA doesn’t go around publicly saying women who have abortions should be executed.
We could spend the next hour telling you all the anti woman, anti feminist, anti choice, anti LGBTQ* and anti everything else things that Durbin has said, but we won’t waste our or your time. There’s plenty of stuff to be found on a simple Google search, and we refuse to give any of the people listed in this article any hits on their websites.
When we were researching Mr. McLure, we asked some of our contacts around Alabama to see if they had heard of him or seen him at events. Interestingly enough, he was spotted at some Democratic events in Birmingham. He identified himself as a Republican who was “concerned about the direction of his party”. Right. He was doing oppo research. Perusing his Facebook gives no clue of him being concerned about his party. Quite the opposite, actually.
Keep digging on McLure’s FB and you’ll find Tim McCrory, Proposal 16’s Communications Director. A trip through his FB timeline shows that he is a Durbin follower, and your typical anti choice, anti feminist tripe. Paul Abbott II is Proposal 16’s Director of Student Engagement, and appears to have a love affair with AHA, Abolish Human Abortion, another extremist anti abortion, anti gay group. (AHA is also against IVF, which mainstream anti choice folks usually have no problem with, thereby regulating AHA to “outsider” and “troublemaker” status even within the anti abortion movement.) Abbott can also be found quoting Matt Trewhella (anti abortion zealot, supporter of the Army of God terrorist organization that believes in “justifiable homicide” against anyone connected to abortion, and is also member of OSA), Roy Moore, and other anti abortion & anti LGBT fanatics.
What have we learned about the “Who” part of this? Everyone in positions of power within Proposal 16 has ties to extremist anti abortion (and by chance, anti LGBT) groups. These are the kind of groups that your “normal” anti abortion folks go to great lengths to distance themselves from. The ones that bring 6 foot tall, photoshopped pics of supposed abortions to clinics and aggressively yell and stalk the women who seek the services inside. Mr. McLure was at the Tuscaloosa clinic recently, and posted a very creepy video of himself on Facebook outside of the Birmingham Planned Parenthood on Friday, March 3rd. Mr. McCrory was also at the Tuscaloosa clinic in the past month.
Ever notice that it’s usually all men who do this kind of shameful protesting at clinics? Misogynists much?
As referenced in the above paragraphs, it appears that Proposal 16 folks are making the rounds at Alabama abortion clinics. Mr. McLure was at the public hearing at the Alabama State House for HB24 (the anti-LGBTQ* adoption bill), HB95 (anti abortion bill) & HB98 (constitutional amendment/backdoor abortion ban) on February 9. Here’s a picture of him shaking hands with Rep. Fridy, sponsor of HB98 that day.
Did we mention that during the committee hearing for HB24, Mr. McLure used his small adopted child as a puppet, saying that he couldn’t have adopted him if HB24 wasn’t made law? We don’t know that is related to discriminating against LGBTQ* Alabamians, but we digress…
Here he is at the Senate committee on HB24’s companion bill, SB145, on February 22nd. He’s hobnobbing with Senator McClendon and other committee members. Is it any surprise that he got to interrupt Sen. McClendon (with no reprimand from the Senator) AND got to speak the longest (over LGBTQ* opposition) during this hearing? We think not.
To say these folks are politically connected to Alabama government would be the understatement of the year. The curious thing about this is why they are lobbying the legislature AND trying to get Governor Bentley to pass a backdoor abortion ban at the same time?
Maybe that is because just in the last year alone, the State of Alabama has paid the ACLU of Alabama $1.2 million of taxpayer money for attorney’s fees over the admitting privileges requirement in HB57, the same type of TRAP law that was struck down by the Supreme Court in Whole Women’s Health vs. Hellerstadt in the summer of 2016? Let that sink in. That is $1.2 million of YOUR money going to defend unconstitutional abortion law.
That doesn’t count the attorney’s fees over SB205, the “2000 ft rule” and SB363, an early second trimester abortion ban that has been overturned by several federal courts in other states. That case was decided in fall of 2016, so no fees have been determined as of yet. But, you can count on them not being cheap, and more of YOUR money going to defend laws that the Legislature should know will not withstand constitutional muster. Even some of those most anti choice members of the Alabama Legislature are concerned over state taxpayer money being wasted on laws that have no chance of standing.
Proposal 16 came about right when the Alabama Legislature began their 2017 session. Coincidence? We think not. With the election of Donald Trump, anti abortion activists have become emboldened, thinking that “their man” will overturn Roe. Violent anti abortion rhetoric is on the rise. They’re trying to ride this wave of anti woman, anti LGBT thought right into the bedrooms of every Alabamian. What better time to do it then when the iron is hot, and football season is over?
Finally, we come to the “Why?” of it all. We wish we had simple answers to this.
The truth is, the anti abortion movement doesn’t give a damn about women. They are fetus fanatics, only caring for the potential child when it is convenient to their cause. You won’t find them lobbying for expansion of Medicaid in Alabama. You won’t see them advocating for better benefits to poor women with children (SNAP, TANF). In fact, they want to cut those benefits, which are not adequate to begin with. They don’t believe women should hold positions of power within their churches, and they should be silent. (Going back to why all anti abortion leaders are men – now do you see why?) They see women as lesser than men, only good for raising kids & keeping house…but ONLY if they are married and not gay in any way whatsoever. They are against equal pay for women. They’re pretty much against anything that could actually help women instead of shaming them for daring to have sex outside of their narrow world (and religious) views.
All too often, anti abortion groups use Alabama as a testing ground of sorts. They get legislation passed here, hoping to set precedent so they can pass it in other states. They do not care about the women they harm in the process. It is about control. The white man’s control over every aspect of people’s lives is finally losing it’s grip. And they’re mad as hell about it.
You’ll notice there are no exceptions in Proposal 16. This is by design. No exceptions for the woman who has fetal demise, and could be poisoned by the dead fetus inside of her. No exceptions for the 12 year old rape victim who was too ashamed or afraid to tell anyone about what happened to her. No exceptions for the woman who just discovered she has cancer when carrying a wanted child, who doesn’t have a choice to continue her pregnancy if she wants to continue to live for her family that already exists and needs her. That’s because these men believe that women dying in childbirth is the “ultimate sacrifice to God”.
How sick is that?
That is what these anti abortion groups in Alabama believe. We’ve heard it out of their own mouths in front of clinics. Sometimes in the presence of the very women they claim to love, but are condemning to “hell” to their faces.
Alabama women deserve better. Alabama women deserve to be respected for the decisions they make concerning their bodies and their families. Alabama women do not need the government to be so small that it fits inside of our collective uteri.
Alabama women won’t be fooled by Proposal 16. We say not only no, but HELL NO. If you don’t like abortion, don’t have one. It’s that simple!
It’s past time for Alabama women to step up and say NO to these men. We must make our opposition to people who do not have a uterus (and those who do) be heard LOUD & CLEAR.
Join us on March 8 (and beyond) to send postcards to Governor Bentley telling him that Alabamians reject Proposal 16 and those who wish to force their ideological beliefs on our bodies. Or, you can call Governor Bentley’s office at (334) 242-7100 anytime and voice your opposition.
They love to throw around the “We Dare Defend Our Rights” slogan. Let us show them what defending our rights looks like.