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The Texas Fracking Tycoon Funding Anti-abortion Extremism

Farris Wilks, Texas fracking billionaire and funder of extreme anti-abortion candidates and causes, preaches in a church founded by his parents, teaching women should be silent during services and abortion is murder even in cases of rape or incest.

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, Drue Wagner

Number of abortion-restricting bills that have been introduced in state legislatures this year, with the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights research group, calling their extreme nature "unprecedented" and part of a strategy to get an abortion case before the conservative-dominated U.S. Supreme Court: 370

Date on which a Texas legislative committee held a hearing on a bill — the most extreme anti-abortion measure proposed this year — to criminalize abortion without exceptions and allow providers and patients to be charged with homicide, which can carry the death penalty in that state: 4/8/2019

Number of people who attended the hearing, which stretched into the next day: hundreds

Date on which the committee's Republican chair announced that he would not let the bill advance, leading to what the local sheriff called "security concerns" for the lawmaker: 4/11/2019

Rank of Texas among the states where anti-abortion forces have contributed the most to state politics, according to FollowTheMoney.org: 1

Year in which Texas state Rep. Tony Tinderholt, an Arlington Republican who's part of the archconservative Texas Freedom Caucus, first introduced the measure to criminalize all abortions, which he said would "force" women to be "more personally responsible" with sex: 2017

Number of times Tinderholt has been married, with his first wife getting a restraining order against him: 5

Amount Tinderholt's campaign has received from Texas Right to Life, the top donor among the state's anti-abortion groups, which applauded the lawmaker but took a neutral stance on his abortion criminalization bill, saying it prefers a more incremental approach: $3,000

Amount his campaign received in contributions from Empower Texans, a lobby group that supports free-market principles and fiscal conservatism and that was by far Tinderholt's biggest donor: $161,600

Amount Tinderholt's campaign received in contributions from fracking services billionaire Farris Wilks, who's also the top contributor to Texas Right to Life and a leading contributor to Empower Texans: $33,750

Total amount that Wilks and his wife, Jo Ann, have contributed to Texas politics since the 2012 election cycle, money that's played a key role in moving the state House further to the right: almost $2.8 million

Until he retired in 2017 to serve as an elder there, number of years that Wilks, the father of 11, was a bishop of what the Texas Observer has described as the "fringy" Assembly of Yahweh 7th Day church, a Messianic Israelite sect that observes Jewish holidays and customs and teaches that women should be silent during services, homosexuality is "a serious crime," climate change is God's will, and abortion is murder, even when the unwanted pregnancy results from incest or rape: 31

Amount Farris Wilks' foundation has donated to Life Dynamics, a prominent anti-choice group that uses bogus legal threats to trick teens into signing away their abortion rights and trains activists to infiltrate abortion clinics: $2.25 million

Amount the charitable foundations run by Wilks and his brother and fracking business partner, Dan Wilks, have donated to two umbrella groups for so-called "crisis pregnancy centers," fake abortion clinics that use anti-choice propaganda to discourage those seeking to end a pregnancy: over $1.5 million

Amount the Wilks brothers have donated to individual fake clinics in Texas: more than $600,000

Margin by which fake abortion clinics, some of which get state funding, outnumber real ones in Texas: 10 to 1

Since 2010, amount Farris Wilks has contributed to federal politics, with much of that going to support the 2016 presidential run of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, a pro-death penalty Republican who has said abortion should be banned even in cases of rape or incest, and whose presidential campaign co-chair said the government should execute abortion providers "in order to expunge bloodguilt from the land and people": over $8 million

Year in which a study was published that linked fracking to reproductive health problems including spontaneous abortions: 2014

(Click on figure to go to source.)

Sue Sturgis is the editorial director of Facing South and the Institute for Southern Studies.