A Donald Trump field organizer who was fired in January has filed a sex discrimination complaint against Trump's campaign.
The New York Times reported on Sunday that Elizabeth Mae Davidson, a 26-year-old field organizer for the Trump campaign in Davenport, Iowa, filed the complaint last Thursday with the Davenport Civil Rights Commission alleging that men who were doing the same work earned more money, were given more responsibility, and were treated more leniently in the campaign.
Davidson recruited organizers for most of her region's 63 precincts and also opened the Trump campaign's second field office in Iowa. She was fired on January 14, the day after she was quoted in a different New York Times article about problems with the campaign in Iowa. The quotes attributed to her were about the process of recruiting volunteers and said nothing disparaging about the campaign. Davidson told the Times in an interview for Sunday's storythat she was paid $2,000 a month, while several men with her same title—district representative—were paid between $3,500 and $4,000 per month.
In her complaint, Davidson alleges that male district representatives have been quoted in the media without getting fired, and that her male peers were given the opportunity to organize and speak at rallies while her requests to do this work were ignored. Her complaint also alleges that when she and another female volunteer met Trump at a rally last summer, the presidential hopeful said, in reference to their appearance, "You guys could do a lot of damage."
In an interview with the Times, Trump denied making this comment and did not address the other allegations. He also explained that his staff had told him that Davidson "did a terrible job," and he criticized the paper for publishing this story the day before the Iowa caucuses. "A story like this," he said, "could damage my chances."
On Thursday night, the seventh Republican presidential debate, hosted by Fox News, took place in Des Moines, Iowa, just days before the first votes for the party nomination are cast in the Iowa caucuses on Monday—and the center of attention was the candidate who wasn't on stage.
The "elephant not in the room," as host Megyn Kelly put it, was Donald Trump, the GOP front-runner. He announced on Tuesday that he would boycott the debate due to a dislike for Fox News' questioning style, in particular Kelly's, with whom Trump has clashed since she asked him about his insults to women in an August debate. Trump threw a separate event at Drake University at the same time as the debate, which he billed as a fundraiser for "wounded warriors." (Mother Jones was denied entry.)
Still, the show went on, with Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who is polling in second place in Iowa, taking Trump's customary spot at the center lectern. Here are a few highlights from the debate, which included a generous helping of digs at Trump:
Cruz impersonates Trump: Cruz opened the debate by thanking Iowans for their hospitality and promising to visit frequently should he be elected. Then he channeled his inner (satirical) Trump. "Now, secondly, let me say I'm a maniac and everyone on this stage is stupid, fat, and ugly," he said. "And Ben, you're a terrible surgeon. Now that we've gotten the Donald Trump portion out of the way…"
Chris Wallace vs. Ted Cruz: After Wallace asked New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie a question that mentioned Cruz's vote to curtail the National Security Agency's surveillance program, Cruz tried to interject, asking to respond to Wallace's question as well. Wallace wouldn't allow it and the two scuffled about the debate rules on stage. "I know you like to argue about the rules, but we're going to conduct a debate," Wallace said.
As soon as Wallace gave Cruz a chance to speak after their tiff over the debate's rules, Cruz picked up his critique of the moderators. He complained, "Chris, I would note that the last four questions have been, 'Rand, please attack Ted. Marco, please attack Ted. Chris, please attack Ted. Jeb, please attack Ted.'" Then he again channeled Trump: "Gosh, if you guys ask one more mean question I may have to leave the stage."
Rubio gets hit hard for his inconsistent immigration stance: Kelly and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida got into a heated exchange about his record of supporting "blanket amnesty" for undocumented immigrants. Kelly showed a video clip of Rubio on the campaign trail vehemently opposing amnesty as an immigration solution. She pointed out that he'd previously co-sponsored a bill to help give amnesty to immigrants. "Haven't you already proven that you can't be trusted on this issue?" she asked. Rubio replied that he does not support amnesty and that he has never reversed himself on the issue. Jeb Bush piled on. "I'm kind of confused because he was the sponsor of the Gang of Eight bill that did require a bunch of thresholds but ultimately allowed for citizenship over an extended period of time," Bush said of Rubio. "I mean, that's a fact."
Rubio turns the flip-flopping allegations on Cruz: Piling onto the immigration discussion, Kelly turned to Cruz, asking him about his own divergent statements on citizenship and legalization for undocumented immigrants. In his response, Cruz used a dig at Rubio to affirm his opposition to a path to citizenship for immigrants. Cruz emphasized that while Rubio "chose to stand with Barack Obama" in support of the Senate's 2013 effort at immigration reform, Cruz played a key role in killing the bill entirely. A visibly displeased Rubio responded sharply.
"This is the lie that Ted's campaign is built on," Rubio said. "The truth is, Ted, throughout this campaign, you've been willing to say or do anything in order to get votes." Rubio listed several instances of Cruz's supporting immigration reform, notably in helping design George W. Bush's immigration policy. "Now you want to trump Trump on immigration," Rubio said. "But you can't—we're not going to beat Hillary Clinton with someone who's willing to say or do anything to win an election."
The easy target: Planned Parenthood: When host Bret Baier shifted the discussion to federal spending, he turned to Christie. "You talk a lot about entitlement reform and you say that that's where the federal government can get savings needed to balance the budget," Baier said. "But can you name even one thing that the federal government does now that it should not do at all?"
Christie smirked. "How about one that I've done in New Jersey for the last six years?" he replied. "That's get rid of Planned Parenthood funding from the United States of America." The crowd erupted with applause. Baier pushed Christie to think beyond Planned Parenthood. (The women's health provider gets about $500 million in federal funding annually, a drop in the bucket of the $3.5 trillion federal budget.) "Anything bigger?" Baier asked. Christie continued to hammer away at Planned Parenthood. "Bigger than that?" he said. "Let me tell you something, when you see thousands upon thousands upon thousands of children being murdered in the womb, I can't think of anything better than that."
On Monday, the district attorney in Harris County, Texas, announced that a grand jury tasked with investigating Planned Parenthood had instead issued indictmentsagainst two anti-abortion activists, David Daleiden and Susan Merritt, who released a series of doctored Planned Parenthood videos last summer. Since the indictments, district attorney Devon Anderson has faced an onslaught of criticism from the anti-abortion movement about both the severity of the charges—one is a felony—and a department employee's affiliation with Planned Parenthood.
Today, in a video on KHOU, a Houston TV network, Anderson explained why her office indicted David Daleiden and Susan Merritt. Even though the decision goes against her opinions on abortion, she says, it follows the law.
"An inconvenient truth of a criminal investigation is that it doesn't always lead where you want to go," Anderson says at the start of the video. "Anyone who pays attention knows that I'm pro-life. I believe abortion is wrong. But my personal belief does not relieve me of my obligation to follow the law."
Anderson dispels some of the misconceptions that have sprung up about her office's decision. For example, defense attorneys have argued that charging both Daleiden and Merritt with a felony for using fake driver's licenses is too extreme because young people caught with fake IDs often receive a misdemeanor charge. But Anderson explains that in Texas, using a fake ID from another state is a felony. "That's the law," she says.
Anderson also addresses the allegation—repeatedly emphasized by the anti-abortion news site LifeNews—that a prosecutor in her department who is involved with the Planned Parenthood board actively participated in the presentation of this case to the grand jury. "That is simply not true," she says. She noted that soon after the lieutenant governor asked her department to review this case in August, this particular prosecutor made her relationship to Planned Parenthood known, and the department issued a press release saying she would not be involved in the case.
Some defense attorneys have asked for another grand jury to review the case. Anderson says she won't do that because it constitutes "grand jury shopping."
"That violates the integrity of the whole system," she says. "Twelve Harris County citizens have spoken, and I respect their decision."
The Harris County, Texas, grand jury tasked with investigating Planned Parenthood announced today that it has cleared the women's health provider of breaking the law. Instead, the grand jury has indicted David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt of the anti-abortion Center for Medical Progress. Last summer, their group released a series of secretly recorded and deceptively edited videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of fetal tissue—which would be illegal. Houston Public Media reports on today's grand jury indictment:
David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt have been indicted for Tampering with a Governmental Record, which is a felony. Daleidan was also indicted for Prohibition of the Purchase and Sale of Human Organs, meaning he illegally offered to purchase human organs in the video recording. A violation of this section is a Class A misdemeanor.
Following the release of the CMP's videos, six states tried to defund Planned Parenthood, 11 states have investigated the women's health provider (none found evidence of fetal tissue sales), and three congressional committees launched their own inquiries.
The grand jury's review was extensive and lasted more than two months, noted Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson in a press release. "We were called upon to investigate allegations of criminal conduct by Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast," Anderson said in the statement. "As I stated at the outset of this investigation, we must go where the evidence leads us. All the evidence uncovered in the course of this investigation was presented to the grand jury. I respect their decision on this difficult case."
Earlier this month, Planned Parenthood filed a federal lawsuit against Daleiden and other activists that worked with the CMP. The lawsuit accuses the CMP of racketeering, illegally creating and using fake identification, and illegally recording Planned Parenthood staff.
"These anti-abortion extremists spent three years creating a fake company, creating fake identities, lying, and breaking the law," said Eric Ferrero, vice president of communications for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in an emailed statement. "When they couldn't find any improper or illegal activity, they made it up."
This is a breaking story. We are updating this post as the story develops.
Forty-three years ago today, the Supreme Court decidedRoe v. Wade. The landmark case established a woman's constitutional right to an abortion. Ever since then, anti-abortion politicians and activists have tried to chip away at Roe. States have passed more than 1,000 restrictions on the procedure and the Supreme Court has ruled on several other abortion cases, each time further limiting abortion access.
What is clear, however, is that after Roe v. Wade, the availability of safe and legal abortions radically changed health outcomes for women. In a book that collected stories from the illegal abortion era, a man who assisted with autopsies at a hospital described seeing many women die from botched abortions. "The deaths stopped overnight in 1973," he said. "That ought to tell people something about keeping abortion legal."
Today, discussions of women's safety are more often heard in statehouses enacting further restrictions on abortion. The medical safety of women framed many of the arguments cited at the Texas Capitol in 2013, when the state Legislature debated, and ultimately passed, HB 2. This omnibus abortion bill imposed costly requirements on clinics—such as hospital-admitting privileges and stringent construction rules—which the medical community overwhelmingly deems to be unnecessary. Since its passage, 23 of the state's 41 abortion providers have closed, and others are likely to follow if the measure is upheld after the Supreme Court reviews HB 2 this year. The high court's ruling could deal a serious blow to the guarantee of the right to a legal abortion enshrined 43 years ago. Either way, many players will be affected—patients, providers, lawyers on both sides of the debate, legislators, the courts, and even lobbyists.
Over the years, Mother Jones has covered the abortion wars from many of their perspectives. Here's a look back at some ofthose stories:
In 2004, Eleanor Cooney wrote an essay entitled "The Way It Was" about the illegal abortion she had as a 17-year-old in 1959, 14 years before Roe. The year before her story appeared, President George W. Bush, flanked by smiling Republican senators and congressmen, had signed the Partial Birth Abortion Ban into law, banning the dilation and extraction abortion method usually used in the second trimester. The measure heralded a new era of legislative efforts aimed at stifling abortion access. "Like some ugly old wall-to-wall carpeting they've been yearning to get rid of," wrote Cooney, "they finally, finally loosened a little corner of Roe. Now they can start to rip the whole thing up, roll it back completely, and toss it in the Dumpster."
In 1981, 14 clinics in Mississippi provided abortions. In 2013, only one remained, thanks to legislation that chipped away at the providers' ability to keep their doors open. In "Inside Mississippi's Last Abortion Clinic," former Mother Jones reporter Kate Sheppard profiled the providers fighting to keep the clinic open, the doctors who flew in from out of state to perform the procedures, a woman who made the decision to terminate her pregnancy, and one of the protesters, who stood outside the clinic every day, tossing miniature plastic babies at car windows.
In 2003, 76-year-old gynecologist Dr. William Rashbaum was still working, and his practice included providing late-term abortions, something he'd been doing for the 30 years since Roe. He was one of the oldest living providers of second-trimester abortions in the United States before his death in 2005. In "End of the Road," Rebecca Paley profiled the doctor in the final years of his career, visiting his practice and chronicling his fierce commitment to helping women.
In 1992, the Supreme Court ruled on a pivotal abortion case, Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Robert Casey was the governor of Pennsylvania at the time, and Planned Parenthood sued the state over five provisions in a recently passed abortion law.The high court ruled that states could pass abortion regulations, provided these did not place an "undue burden" on women's access to the procedure. The ruling opened the door for a wave of abortion restrictions across the country. Right around this time, attorney Harold Cassidy was going through a drastic evolution: A former pro-choice liberal,he had started going to court to defend mothers, including surrogates and birth mothers of adopted kids. He then became one of the anti-abortion movement's most prominent and successful lawyers. In "The Man Who Loved Women Too Much," Sarah Blustain profiles Cassidy and his decades-long legal push to restrict abortion access by turning the pro-choice argument on its head: arguing that abortion violates women's rights.
Earlier this month, a Guttmacher Institute report pointed out that since 2010, more anti-abortion laws have been passed than in any other five-year period since the Roe decision. These restrictions have created a new landscape of severely restricted abortion accessin a number of states. Last fall, former Mother Jones reporter Molly Redden traveled to report on what life is like for women facing unplanned or unwanted pregnancies in these states. She spoke to women who went thousands of miles or crossed state lines to get abortions, going from Texas to Washington, DC, from Indiana to Ohio, and more. "Most abortions today involve some combination of endless wait, interminable journey, military-level coordination, and lots of money," wrote Redden. "Four years of unrelenting assaults on reproductive rights have transformed all facets of giving an abortion or getting one—possibly for good."
At one point, the most visible members of the anti-abortion movement belonged to Operation Rescue, an extreme activist group that would protest in front of clinics. Increasingly, it became clear that the harassment of women and doctors at clinics distracted from the anti-abortion mission. But other organizations that focused on attacking abortion legislatively, rather than physically, gained prominence. One of them is Americans United for Life. Founded in 1971 and run mostly by women, AUL is "one of the most effective anti-abortion organizations in the country," writes Kate Sheppard, even though its budget of about $4 million pales in comparison to many other anti-abortion groups. AUL's mission is to end abortion in the United States, and its main strategy for doing so is helping states chip away at Roe by passing various abortion restrictions. Sheppard profiled AUL in 2012, right after it had one of its most successful years on record: In 2011, 92 restrictions on abortion were passed in states nationwide, 24 of which were either written or promoted by AUL.
In the summer of 2015, the anti-abortion Center for Medical Progress released a series of secretly recorded and deceptively edited videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of fetal tissue—a practice that would be illegal. The videos inflamed the abortion debate and resulted in numerous state and congressional investigations and efforts to defund the largest women's health care organization in the country. Six states tried to defund Planned Parenthood, seven states investigated the women's health provider (none found evidence of fetal tissue sales), and three congressional committees launched their own inquiries.
One of these committees summoned Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards to testify in September 2015. House Republicans grilled Richards for more than four hours about how Planned Parenthood spends its federal funding. The most aggressive interlocutor was Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, who—as Kevin Drum explained—also used a series of completely incorrect charts to make the erroneous point that Planned Parenthood's primary business is abortion.
Florida marriage therapist Vincent Rue hasappeared in a number of states in the past few years assisting them in defending anti-abortion laws. In a 2014 article, Molly Redden explains how his research—which claims to show that women who go through the procedure eventually suffer from mental illness—has been thoroughly discredited by several courts and health organizations. Still, states continue to pay for his expertise: "Republican administrations in four states—Alabama, North Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin—have paid or promised to pay Rue $192,205.50 in exchange for help defending anti-abortion laws," Redden wrote.
The Supreme Court:
In March, the high court is set to hear arguments in Whole Woman's Health v. Cole. The case, brought by Texas abortion provider Whole Woman's Health and the Center for Reproductive Rights, challenges HB 2, the Texas abortion bill whose onerous restrictions could shut down all but 10 of Texas' abortion clinics, leaving women in large swathes of the state without an abortion provider. Many advocates are calling this the most important abortion case in nearly 25 years. The plaintiffs are challenging HB 2 as a violation of the Supreme Court's ruling that abortion restrictions can't place an "undue burden" on abortion access. If the Supreme Court upholds the Texas law, it could widen the already murky "undue burden" standard, opening the door for similar regulations in other states. "This case represents the greatest threat to women's reproductive freedom since the Supreme Court decided Roe vs. Wade over 40 years ago," wrote Ilyse Hogue, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, in a November statement. "Laws like the ones being challenged in Texas are designed to subvert the Constitution and end the right to a safe and legal abortion."