Anti-abortion groups are distancing themselves from a prominent writer, activist and thought leader in the movement who has leaned into white nationalism since Donald Trump’s election.
Kristen Walker Hatten, former vice president of the anti-abortion group New Wave Feminists and a contributor to The Dallas Morning News, has spoken at universities and events around the country about the need for mainstream feminism to embrace women who oppose abortion rights. She has written articles for Live Action News, the organization behind the heavily edited “sting” videos that inspired Republicans in Congress to investigate Planned Parenthood, and gained media attention in early 2017 when New Wave Feminists was ousted from a partnership with the Women’s March.
Hatten wrote in late 2016 that she found Trump to be so “creepy, gross and tacky” and such a “repugnant chauvinist” during his campaign that she quit the internet for a while to avoid reading about him. But after he won, something changed. Hatten began sharing white supremacist content on social media. She self-identified on Twitter as alt-right and “ethnonationalist” ― the same term used by white nationalist icon Richard Spencer. She mused on Facebook that immigrant “invaders” are replacing white Europeans in their own countries, and shared a post imploring Trump to grant “asylum” to white South Africans.
“She basically pulled a complete 180 from anything we had ever seen,” said Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, founder and president of New Wave Feminists and a former close friend of Hatten.
Hatten told HuffPost in an email that she doesn’t consider herself to be a white supremacist or even a racist.
“I admit to being racist by today’s standards, but I also think almost everyone is racist by today’s standards,” she wrote. “Is it racist to live in a majority white neighborhood? Send your kids to majority white schools? When I was a kid ‘racism’ meant hatred for another race and/or acting on that hatred. Now you’re a racist if you touch a black person’s hair because you think it’s pretty.”
Hatten added that while she is proud to be white, she does not identify as a white nationalist or a white supremacist because she believes all races have a right to their own homelands.
“I do see that Europe and the US are becoming... well, not European,” she wrote. “This concerns me not because I hate anyone, but for the same reason Japan would be concerned if the Japanese were becoming a minority in Japan. No people should be excited to become a minority in their homeland. It is contrary to human nature. I wouldn’t expect it of any race and I don’t think it should be expected of whites.”
Hatten’s views present a problem for the anti-abortion movement as it continues to jockey for mainstream acceptance and tries to distance itself from right-wing extremists. Throughout the history of the abortion wars, a great deal of violent energy has been generated at the confluence of anti-abortion activism and white supremacy. The first known murder of an abortion provider was committed by a former Klansman. The kinship isn’t hard to understand: Both are movements of the status quo, dedicated to preserving a white patriarchal order.
Today, white supremacists emboldened by Trump’s election are a lot more explicit about their political fellow-traveling. Neo-Nazis have been showing up at March for Life rallies around the country. A Rewire analysis found that the Family Research Council, a powerful evangelical anti-abortion group, is also deeply influential among white supremacists on social media.
And the movements share heroes: Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), one of the most vocal opponents of abortion rights in Congress, infamously said that children of undocumented immigrants have “calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.” The conservative congressman, who has narrated a sonogram at a House hearing and compared abortion to “black genocide,” became a white supremacist icon after Richard Spencer compared one of his tweets ― “We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies” ― to neo-Nazi David Lane’s infamous “14 words” (“We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children”).
Lila Rose, the president of Live Action, echoed King’s rhetoric in an email about Hatten last week. She said Hatten no longer contributes to the group’s news site and “did not voice those views when she wrote for us,” but argued that abortion rights advocates are in fact the real racists.
“Institutionalized racism has also contributed to the deaths of millions of minority children in the womb,” she wrote.
Herndon-De La Rosa said she quietly kicked Hatten out of New Wave Feminists shortly after Trump became president and scrubbed every mention of her from the website when Hatten started to become a mouthpiece for the so-called alt-right. “As far as making a statement, I didn’t want to give this toxic garbage any more of a platform or attention,” she told HuffPost.
The Dallas Morning News also told HuffPost it will no longer publish anything by Hatten in light of her views.
Herndon-De La Rosa said Hatten’s journey to the far right appears to have been directly influenced by Trump’s election.
“Within a month, [Hatten’s] views got more extreme,” she said. “She was my best friend for seven years and I never heard anything like this coming out of her mouth. Everybody around her started doing damage control.”
Tensions between Hatten and Herndon-De La Rosa grew more pronounced earlier this month, when the latter wrote a Facebook post drawing attention to some of the things Hatten has shared on social media. Hatten responded with a long post defending herself and her ethnonationalist beliefs, but Facebook removed the post because it violated the site’s terms.
Abby Johnson, the famous anti-abortion activist who resigned from her job as a Planned Parenthood clinic director after seeing an abortion, defended Hatten in a Facebook comment.
After I reached out to Hatten last week, she deleted her Facebook and Twitter accounts. She said she is having a high-risk pregnancy and that the negative attention to her views would cause her more stress. On Saturday, someone identifying himself as the moderator of an “alt-alt-right” Facebook group, Space Right // Meta Future, texted me to say that Hatten had used an alias account to post my phone number on the group’s page and complain that I was “doxxing” her.
That post seems to have been deleted.
“I’ve said I identify with the alt-right to a large extent, and I do,” Hatten wrote in her email to me. “That said, there are elements within the alt-right with whom I don’t see eye to eye. I am not a national socialist nor am I a ‘Nazi.’ I am not a eugenicist. In fact I remain prolife.”
Meanwhile, Hatten’s husband, a reviewer at Guns.com who is currently deployed overseas with the U.S. military, issued a warning on Facebook “to any of you motherfuckers out in first world Facebook land” who might speak ill of his wife.
“I might be in Africa now,” he wrote, “but I’ll come home soon enough and pull your fucking heart out of your broken rib cage and eat it.”