Terry Beatley, an antiabortion activist whose tactics and views are a bit more extreme than what you normally see on the campaign trail, hopes her new political action committee, No Excuses Ministry, will make enough difference in next week’s election to topple her only target: Sen. Ed Houck.
Houck (D- Spotsylvania), chairman of the Senate Health and Education Committee, is in one of the closest races in the state against Republican Bryce Reeves.
Beatley’s volunteers have knocked on hundreds of doors and handed out thousands of fliers at community events in the Fredericksburg area to call attention to Houck’s voting record on abortion, gay rights and stem cell research. At at least one event they passed out plastic fetuses and talked about how Houck is destroying “biblical family values.”
But Craig Bieber, Houck’s campaign manager, said Beatley’s group is spreading “recklessly false allegations,”including handing out fliers that link Houck to “killing African American babies” and the KKK.
One flier we received about Houck says Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger was “a racist/population control supporter/lifetime member of the American Eugenics Society. She was frequently asked to speak at Klu Klux Klan meetings.”
Sanger, a nurse who died in 1966, is credited with opening the first birth control clinic in the nation and founding Planned Parenthood. She is a frequent target of attacks by the antiabortion-rights movement because, as she writes in an autobiography, she spoke to the women’s auxiliary of the KKK and she, like other prominent people of her time, dabbled in eugenics, which looks at ways to improve the human species.
The flier tied Houck to the KKK and eugenics because he supports — and is supported by — Planned Parenthood.
“Ultimately the truth will win out,’’ Bieber said. “We think it’s disgusting that she and her PAC would resort to these distortions.”
But Beatley, a financial consultant who formed the PAC in part with a donation from House Speaker Bill Howell (R-Stafford), said her group is misunderstood. It’s not about abortion, but parents rights, she said.
“I’m about exposing Ed Houck’s record,”’ she said. “He has a long list of votes repeatedly chipping away at parental rights.’’
She said Houck voted against parental notification and consent for minors getting abortions as well as other anti-parental rights bills, including those that would have informed parents which after-school clubs their children are attending, and he supported a bill “which allows teaching sodomy to children.”
“These are the kinds of bills being voted on in the General Assembly,’’ she said. “People don’t know. So many are shocked over this.”
Beatley said she has spent years researching the abortion industry, which she says tries to get teenagers to be sexually active so they will have abortions later.
“They do everything they can do get children in these facilities,’’ she said. “Planned Parenthood is in the business to sell abortions. Sen. Houck has sold out to NARAL.”
Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, said Beatley’s group is engaging in a “smear campaign to mislead voters” and called the claims “absurd and baseless.’’
“Voters know that Planned Parenthood and other women’s health care practices actually provide Virginians with basic affordable health care that they won’t get anywhere else,’’ she said. “It’s a well documented fact that the vast majority of services provided by women’s health care providers are preventative services. In reality, over the past two decades, the numbers of unplanned pregnancies and abortions have plummeted in Virginia and across the country in large part to women’s access to family planning services.”
Beatley said Houck is her group’s sole target this year but she has other plans for future elections.
The Susan B. Anthony List Candidate Fund, an antiabortion-rights group with thousands of members across the nation, also announced last week that it is spending $25,000 on a campaign to call attention to Houck’s “extreme record on abortion.”