Does Ted Cruz support executing women who have abortions?

Earlier today, Ted Cruz announced the formation of “Pro-Lifers for Cruz,” a coalition of conservatives with a particular distaste for a woman’s right to choose who feel that Ted Cruz is the presidential candidate who best represents their values.

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, who recently announced his long-anticipated endorsement of Cruz, will chair the group. Troy Newman, chair of Operation Rescue, the group behind the Planned Parenthood sting videos that recently resulted in the indictment of two of the group’s members, will serve as a co-chair. Former Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli is also part of the group’s leadership.

As RightWingWatch was quick to point out, touting Newman’s endorsement could (or, rather, should) be a bit of a problem for Cruz, given that before Newman was involved in Operation Rescue, he was best known for arguing that it was not only acceptable but necessary to kill women who have abortions, along with abortion providers. And in the short biography of Newman that Cruz’s announcement includes, it cites books Newman wrote where he makes that case explicitly.

Here’s Newman’s bio on Cruz’s website:

Troy Newman is the president of Operation Rescue, one of the leading pro-life Christian activist organizations in the nation and a founding board member for the Center for Medial Progress. He has been involved in the pro-life community for over 20 years, starting in 1991 as the Operation Rescue West president. He is also a published author, having written Their Blood Cries Out and his most recent book Abortion Free.

And here’s RightWingWatch’s take:

We have reviewed both “Abortion Free” and “Their Blood Cries Out” here at Right Wing Watch. In “Their Blood Cries Out,” written in 2000 and revised in 2003, Newman lays out the case for churches to oppose abortion rights, saying that by failing to follow what he says is the biblical response to abortion — executing abortion providers and treating women who have abortions as “murderers” — the country is mired in “bloodguilt” and is awaiting the judgment of God. In the meantime, Newman writes, the U.S. has experienced “warnings” from God about legal abortion, including the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Although he renounces extrajudicial violence against abortion providers, Newman has argued that the murderer of an abortion provider in Florida should have been able to argue that the act was justifiable homicide meant to “save the lives of the pre-born babies that were scheduled to be killed by abortion that day.” When another abortion provider died of leukemia, Newman put out a press release rejoicing in his death. Newman’s second-in-command at Operation Rescue is Cheryl Sullenger, who spent time in federal prison in the 1980s for conspiring to bomb an abortion clinic.

By embracing Newman and promoting his book, we have no choice but to conclude that Ted Cruz is on board with at least the gist of what Newman argued, if not his specific call to execute anyone involved in abortion procedures. That’s especially true given the way Cruz responded the last time someone went to an abortion clinic with a gun and opened fire.

All this is to say, while I doubt Ted Cruz would advocate vigilante justice — he’s no Paul LePage — it’s definitely worth asking him whether he supports criminalizing abortion to the same extent that Troy Newman does. We already know that Ted Cruz absolutely adores the death penalty; does he think that women who have abortions and/or the doctors who provide them should be executed by the state?

This doesn’t seem like the kind of question we should have to ask politicians with a non-zero chance of becoming president, but there seems to be a non-zero chance that Cruz would answer yes.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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