Despite assurances that he will continue to protect a woman’s right to choose if elected governor of California, Republican candidate Bill Simon has been a longtime supporter and adviser to a New Jersey-based organization with close ties to anti-abortion extremists, the San-Jose Mercury News reported Sunday. Good Counsel, which runs five homes for unwed mothers in New York state, is run by Christopher Bell and Joan Andrews Bell – who has been arrested several times over the years for her part in anti-abortion protests. In 1999, Andrews-Bell told the Toronto Sun that killing abortion doctors might be defensible.
James Kopp, who is now facing charges for the murder of Dr. Bernand Slepian who performed abortions at a private clinic, worked at Good Counsel as a handyman. Andrews-Bell and Kopp have known each other since 1988; the two were arrested together in Burlington, Vt. in 1990 during protests at clinics. In addition, Rev. Benedict Groeschel, who is a founding member of Good Counsel’s board with Simon, also established the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, whose members have held prayer vigils at abortion blockades for more than 10 years.
In the late 1980s, Simon helped found Good Counsel and, until last month, served as head of the group’s advisory committee. Since resigning from his formal position on the Good Counsel board in 1991 and moving to Los Angeles, Simon has focused his charitable work on groups such as Covenant House and Catholic Charities. However, the Simon family has continued to support Good Counsel financially with more than $200,000 in contributions to the group from 1997 to 1999 – half of those donations came in the four months after Kopp was named to the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list. This year, Good Counsel received $50,000 from the William E. Simon Foundation, Bell told the Mercury-News.