Tag Archives: Keith Mason

The Personhood split, Part II: Strategy

2935348.largeRead The Personhood split, Part I: Structure for background.

Aside from their structural variations, Personhood USA and National Personhood Alliance at first seemed to have similar goals – until the November 4 election.

At that time both the Colorado “Definition of Person and Child” Initiative and  North Dakota “Life Begins at Conception” Amendment failed, by 65% and 64%, respectively.

After the defeat of those two initiatives, added to the defeats in 2008 and 2010 of PUSA-sponsored personhood initiatives in Colorado by 73% and 70.5%, respectively, NPA publicly threw in the towel on state initiatives.

The hoister of the white flag was NPA National Policy Director Gualberto Garcia Jones, a former PUSA board member. Jones proclaimed in a post-election op ed, “[I]t isn’t an overstatement to say that the statewide personhood ballot measure is dead for now.”

Ironically, Jones complained in his op ed that at least one previous statewide personhood initiative had lost because it was “sabotaged” by “opposition from state leaders who should have been our allies.”

But isn’t that what Jones was doing to future statewide personhood efforts?

In fact, the personhood movement constantly criticizes – and rightfully so, in my opinion – incremental groups and leaders who publicly oppose their initiatives. Here’s one such letter… co-authored by Jones.

So I don’t understand the compulsion of one personhood group to publicly condemn a strategy spearheaded by another personhood group. You’d think they’d know better.

Pro-aborts ate it up, though.

As Jones should know, personhood efforts, like incremental efforts, are about more than winning at the ballot box or in a legislature, as this PUSA infographic shows (click to enlarge):

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Keith Mason, head of PUSA, confirmed to me that PUSA now has a database of 7 million believers. 7 million. No other pro-life group can touch that.

Jones wrote that NPA is taking its efforts local – an incremental strategy, I might add (as are statewide personhood efforts, actually):

We need to start engaging in more asymmetrical tactics, and this means engaging the enemy in municipalities and counties that we know we control.

This can be done at the legislative and political level, as Georgia Right to Life and other groups have done by the endorsement of state officials, or it can be done by engaging in municipal ballot measures.

Dan Becker, former employee of PUSA and founder of NPA, expounded in an email:

We are adding a FOURTH “leg” to the NRLC (National Right to Life Committee) 3-legged stool – judicial tension through the interposition of “lesser magistrates.”

The legal doctrine of interposition is a well established principle. This is especially important as Personhood Alabama has a supportive state supreme court in Justice Tom Parker and Chief Justice Roy Moore. We are looking for various state supreme courts to issue conflicting rulings as an inducement for the U.S. Supreme Court to grant cert. The timeline for a USSC appeal would be after the 2016 election (assuming a GOP victory) and AFTER a replacement of Kennedy or the more liberal old folks.

Becker provided a link to the story of the Georgia city banning abortion clinics (which it has since walked back).

It’s fine, great, to work on any and all of the above. But we again return to the question, why the need for two national personhood groups?

In the final analysis, I think it all comes down to NPA leadership’s animus toward NRLC, with a healthy dose of personhood infighting. (Welcome to the club.) Both leaders of NPA are former employees of PUSA. As I wrote in Part I:

PA wants to formulate an organization of affiliates to compete against the National Right to Life Committee. (It helps to know NRLC disaffiliated Georgia Right to Life, of which Becker is still president, in March 2014 for a difference of opinion on strategy that culminated in GRTL’s public attempt to thwart a piece of NRLC’s legislation.)

PUSA wants to maintain a tight decision-making framework composed of a small leadership team and donor board, also with affiliates, but with no plan to rival and replace NRLC.

PUSA and NPA are working on the same efforts, some just different in scope. As Mason wrote in an email to supporters after the aforementioned op ed was published:

We have increased support for Personhood by 10% since the first initiative in 2008. Clearly, this is a social change model that works. Moreover, these initiatives are tools to build the grassroots infrastructure within a state to actually pass an amendment – it identifies people who consider themselves pro-life so that we can activate them to act pro-life. That’s how Personhood USA grew to become the largest grassroots pro-life organization in the country!

The state ballot initiative is also an educational tool that simultaneously provides a pro-life standard for lobbying and candidate endorsements.

Nevertheless, we realize the fatigue that can set in when we focus exclusively on state measures. That’s why the Personhood USA team developed the idea for regional and local personhood resolutions and measures – an idea which has now been bandied about in the media! We support “all-of-the-above” to work to pass Personhood.

PUSA and NPA share many if not most of the same affiliates. They even share the same name, over which there is now a trademark dispute.

The only real difference between the two is NPA wants to rival NRLC and PUSA doesn’t.

I saw it get personal between Georgia Right to Life/Dan Becker and Karen Handel. (And I was drawn into that, so I speak from experience as well.)

There seems to be a trend.

 

Pro-life leader’s home vandalized in wake of Newsweek article

Warning: Vulgarity ahead.

I wrote last week that a Newsweek article favorable to the personhood movement and personhood leaders Keith and Jennifer Mason had “riled abortion proponents.” Little did I know how much.

Someone posted Mason’s home address in a comment to the Newsweek article. Newsweek closed down comments, but it was too late. At 1:30a on June 27, Mason “was in the basement, catching a movie and having a beer, to just chill,” according to a follow-up Newsweek piece, when he heard a loud noise:

“[I] thought one of our kids had fallen down the stairs.” Mason says he ran upstairs from the basement, then “ran through a bunch of glass” and “saw red.” He describes the scene as “surreal – I didn’t know if it was blood on the glass or what. It turned out to be spray paint. There was red paint all over the side of our house. They spray-painted coat-hangers all over my sidewalk and door. We called 911. The police were there within three minutes.”

Mason and his family immediately left their home and are now staying at an undisclosed location. Mason didn’t go public with the attack until July 2, after he had ensured the safety of his family.

Now, according to Mason in an email to me, he has “hired security, been forced to move, and are getting further daily threats.” And not a lot of sympathy. A sample of both in the (now closed) comments section of the follow-up Newsweek post:

Whether this is deemed a terrorist attack or hate crime will be up to the FBI, which is now involved.

Newsweek article on Personhood movement riles abortion proponents

A June 25 article in Newsweek about the Personhood movement is shaking up the pro-abortion community. Just read a sampling of the 315 comments and counting that have poured in since it was crossposted on The Daily Beast since yesterday.

Why? Because author Abigail Pesta wrote a fair piece that positively portrays Personhood leader Keith Mason (pictured above with wife Jennifer) and legitimizes the movement itself, concluding:

The group has helped spark 22 “personhood” bills and ballot initiatives; while none has passed, in each ballot vote on personhood, the margin of defeat has declined….

Personhood efforts have existed for decades, but they have never taken hold in the public imagination the way Mason’s work has.

Pesta expounds in this video…

Bottom line, great news:

His group is now collecting signatures for ballot efforts in Colorado, Ohio, and Montana for the November elections and in Florida for 2014….

He says his team has gained more than 80,000 volunteers and more than a million signatures….

As Mason’s team gathers signatures for the fall ballots in his most ambitious season so far, opponents are bracing for a fight. Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union, and other groups have filed lawsuits and launched extensive publicity campaigns. Personhood is a “formidable presence in every state,” says NARAL’s Crane. “If any one of these initiatives passes, it could work its way through the courts. And the courts can’t necessarily be counted on these days to make decisions that will protect women’s health.”


There are those on our side who don’t think the courts should be counted on to go our way either, for example:

Paul Linton, former general counsel for the pro-life group Americans United for Life, says personhood is “fundamentally flawed,” as “no justice on the Supreme Court… has ever expressed the view that the unborn child is or should be regarded as a federal constitutional ‘person.’”

But it does look as though we will someday find out, just another reminder of the importance of this election, since the next president may select up to three Supreme Court justices.

[Photo via Newsweek]

Five reasons Mississippi’s personhood initiative lost (aside from the other side’s whopping lies)

personhoodAs the dust settles after the defeat of Mississippi’s personhood initiative  last week, here are five reasons I think it lost.

These  have nothing to do with the whopping lies the other side told. In other words, these are constructive criticisms.

I ran my thoughts past Keith Mason of Personhood USA, who took them well. He even gave me one I hadn’t thought of. This is a learning process.

1. We should have anticipated and precluded their whopping lies.


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A person’s still not a person no matter how small in Mississippi

Three weeks ago Mississippi’s Initiative 26, or the “personhood amendment,” enjoyed 80+% support. Last week internal pro-life polling showed it was still up by 18 points.

Yet Initiative 26 ended up losing last night 58-42%.

There were two simple reasons for the loss:

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Postmortem on 2010 Colorado personhood amendment

I can’t find more complete election results than 97%. The CO Secretary of State’s office won’t release its final tally until November 26. I’m interested because I’d love for Amendment 62’s “Yes” count to reach 30%.

Whatever, I’m relieved Personhood Colorado’s 2nd ballot initiative to define “personhood” as beginning at fertilization fared better than 2008, when it went down 73-27%. But it fared worse than organizers anticipated.

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Colorado Personhood Amendment’s new video

Personhood Colorado has released a new video to encourage support of the only pro-life initiative on any US ballot this November, Amendment 62, the Personhood Initiative.

I spoke with one of Amendment 62’s masterminds this morning, Keith Mason, who said internal polling looks significantly better than in 2008, when the personhood initiative was defeated 73% to 27%. In fact, “striking distance” was mentioned.

With the exception of the Angel of Death transforming into President Obama, which I thought was over the top, this video is very good…

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Pro-lifers shut down anti-personhood rally

Shelby Knox is a pro-abort activist starlet being called by some “the next Gloria Steinem.”

Earlier this week Knox flew to the Colorado to help NARAL Colorado attempt to squelch votes for the Personhood Amendment 62 campaign. Yesterday Knox participated in a No on 62 rally in Colorado Springs. Afterward she tweeted

… and posted this positive albeit unimpressive photo…

Not so fast, little Ms. Gloria wannabe. Here’s the other half of the story.

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