Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Reproductive Issues at the 2011 Values Voters Summit

Plastic fetuses at the Pro-Life
Across America table at the
2011 Values Voters Summit
(To read about tensions between evangelicals and Mormons at the 2011 Values Voters Summit, click here. To read about homophobia at the summit, click here. To read about science and nature at the summit, click here. To read about Glenn Beck's talk, click here.)

What would a Religious Right event be without anti-abortion rhetoric? Abortion and LGBT rights are perhaps the most central issues to the Religious Right, and the Values Voters Summit provided right-wing leaders with an opportunity to denounce both.

First, I was struck by the strong presence of anti-abortion organizations in the exhibit room, with information tables from Pro-Life Across America, Crossroads Pro-Life, Americans United for Life, and several other groups present. Even organizations that did not focus exclusively on abortion spoke of it in their literature. For example, the Samaritan Ministries table had pamphlets that read, "Do You Support Abortion, Sexual Immorality, Drug & Alcohol Abuse with Your Health Insurance?"

In the main ballroom, Values Voter Summit speakers wasted no time in denouncing abortion and its defenders. Family Research Council president Tony Perkins criticized the Obama administration's stance on abortion and contraception. At the 15:10 mark of C-SPAN's Friday morning coverage video, he had this to say.
"And let's look at the social values of this president. Overturn the Mexico City policy which prohibits your tax dollars from being used to promote abortion in foreign countries. Directing more and more tax dollars to ineffective and unethical embryonic stem cell research. Directing more money to the United Nations family planning which is a major funder of anti-child policies like China's one-child policy. Directing more funding to abortion through Obamacare. Mandating coverage of contraception including abortifacients by faith-based organizations."
Speaker of the House John Boehner, whose anti-abortion stance is well-known, defended the Hyde Amendment at the 30:22 mark of the C-SPAN Friday morning video.

"Making sure that the Hyde Amendment becomes the law of the land once again to prohibit federal taxpayer dollars from being used to fund elective abortion was passed by the House and we're going to continue to press to make this the law of the land."
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney also denounced abortion, expressing his approval of the Hyde Amendment as well. If elected president, Romney promised to end funding for Planned Parenthood and encourage the overturning of Roe v. Wade in favor of delegating abortion policies to the states.

The American Family Association's Bryan Fischer had much to say about a myriad of issues, including gays, Islam, evolution, God's role in government, and abortion. At the 9:51 mark of this video, Fischer said that the U.S. needs a staunchly anti-abortion president.

"We need a president who sincerely believes in the God-given, inalienable right to life and who believes that that right begins at the moment of conception. This means a president who would not even think of appointing to the Supreme Court a judge who does not believe that Roe v. Wade was not only unconstitutional but profoundly immoral. A president who believes that no judge is qualified to sit on traffic court, let alone on the Supreme Court, if he does not understand that the primary purpose of law and government is to protect innocent human beings from violence at every stage of life."

Last but not least, Rev. Robert Jeffress made anti-abortion comments at the Values Voters Summit, when not making anti-Mormon and homophobic comments. According to an article in the Texas Independent, Jeffress praised presidential candidate Rick Perry as "committed on the sanctity of life and on the sanctity of marriage" and "the most pro-life governor in the United States of America right now.” Jeffress also celebrated Perry's decision to defund Planned Parenthood in Texas, calling the health care provider a "slaughterhouse for the unborn." Planned Parenthood was not amused.

Anti-abortion sentiments were not limited to the ballroom speakers. One of the Saturday afternoon breakout sessions was entitled "Exposing and Defunding Planned Parenthood, America's Abortion Giant." Scheduled speakers at the breakout session included LiveAction's Lila Rose and Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser. Another breakout session entitled "The Meaning of Life: From Pre-Natal to the Grave" also touched upon abortion.

The most striking thing about the Values Voters Summit was not what its speakers said about reproductive issues, but what they didn't say. Religious Right voices were eager to denounce abortion, but offered few concrete strategies for preventing it. The voices I heard condemning abortion did not champion affordable contraception, comprehensive sex education, sexual violence prevention, or realistic means of combating poverty. In their haste to end abortion, many right-wing voices have neglected to study its roots.

For additional news, visit the following links.

Colorado Independent: Boehner vows continued fight against abortion

Texas Independent: At Values Voter Summit, controversial Texas pastor endorses Perry

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