On Day Two, Right-Wing Confab Turns Up Heat on Abortion Issue


WASHINGTON, DC — Today, speakers at the Faith and Freedom Coalition “Road to Majority” conference made up for Thursday’s deficit in remarks about lady-parts with appeals for support of Rep. Trent Franks’ 20-week abortion bill, and with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush asserting the superior fertility of immigrants.

For Ralph Reed, a top Republican strategist and longtime organizer of the religious right, the Road to Majority conference represents a further step in his comeback from the Abramoff lobbying scandal, in which he was implicated but never charged. This year’s conference takes place in the rather plush J.W. Marriott Hotel that adjoins the National Press Building, and despite its small size compared to other national right-wing gatherings, nearly every politician whose name is mentioned as a possible candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination has made it his business to address the crowd.

As we previously reported, speakers at Thursday’s kick-off luncheon—which featured potential presidential hopefuls Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL)—avoided use of the word “abortion” and spoke only obliquely of their anti-choice views. Neither mentioned contraception.

2016 Themes: Freedom and Fertility

On day two of the conference, however, former vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), launched into a tirade in which he accused the Obama administration of trampling on the religious liberty of the Catholic church and other religious organizations that oppose the use of birth control. Paul used the framing outlined by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which opposes the requirement in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that mandates employer-provided health plans to include coverage of contraception without a co-pay.

Ubiquitous on the right is the myth that the ACA includes coverage for “abortifacients,” which it does not. That didn’t stop Ryan from repeating it. (Leaders of the religious right seem to purposely sow confusion by conflating emergency contraception with medical abortion drugs, even though emergency contraception prevents ovulation and therefore prevents pregnancy altogether.)

Ryan also inferred that the Internal Revenue Service had targeted religious groups that applied for non-profit status, saying that an Iowa antiabortion group had been asked to reveal the details of its members prayers.

“This is big government assaulting our first amendment rights,” Ryan said.

Jeb Bush, meanwhile, appealed to the largely evangelical Protestant audience to support immigration reform by citing Americans’ low birth rates, which he deemed an economic threat. (Earlier in the program, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), whom Reed said would have an even greater impact after she leaves office next year, gave a classic harangue against giving immigrants a path to citizenship.)

“Immigrants are more fertile, and they love families, and they have more intact families, and they bring a younger population,” Bush said. (He seemed to confuse birth rate with fertility; American women are likely every bit as fertile as immigrant women, but choose to have fewer children.)

Women Against Women

Later in the program, an all-women panel, moderated by Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America, took the stage, under the title, “Advancing the Pro-Life Movement.” Panel members attempted to paint Kermit Gosnell, who ran an illegal abortion clinic, as the face of the pro-choice movement, and to drum up support for the 20-week abortion ban sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) that passed through the House Judiciary Committee earlier this week on a party-line vote.

The passage of the Franks bill in committee was notable not because it stands a chance of becoming law in this session of Congress—it will never get through the Senate—but because it was passed by a Republican majority on the committee comprising only men. (There was also Franks’ rejection of a rape exception to the ban, which would bar all abortion after 20 weeks post-fertilization, because, he contended, the incidence of pregnancy from rape is low.)

Former Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO), now the chief lobbyist for the ironically named anti-choice Susan B. Anthony List, promised that when the Franks bill is introduced on the House floor next week, we would be treated to a host of “amazing women” speaking on its behalf. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) has been tapped as the bill’s floor manager. Blackburn was scheduled to take part in today’s Faith and Freedom Coalition panel, but did not appear.

Speaking of the post-Gosnell environment, Musgrave said: “This is a time for the pro-life movement like we have not had in decades. We must seize the moment.”

Right-wing commentator Kate Obenshain claimed that there is “a billion-dollar abortion industry” that cares nothing for women’s rights. She also cited a Time magazine story that assessed the success of the antiabortion movement. “We’re winning,” she said.

Day Gardner, founder of the National Black Pro-Life Union and a late addition to the panel, chided Republicans for not having African-American women in leadership in its anti-choice efforts to push back on Democrats’ claims that they are protecting the reproductive rights of women who are poor or belong to minority groups.

Rounding out the antiabortion speakers was Gary Bauer, the onetime president of the Family Research Council, who claimed that economic issues were not good ones for Republicans. Cutting Social Security, he scoffed, was not likely to be popular. The GOP “has it upside down,” Bauer said. Cutting taxes for the wealthy? Not a winner. But, he said, opposing abortion and same-sex marriage offered a road to victory.

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  • Arekushieru

    Actually, Paul Ryan is attacking fundamental rights, and I’m not purely talking about women’s rights, here. I’m talking about his opposition to clergy members practicing their faith in the way they see fit. You see, HE is opposing freedom of religion rights, NOT Obama.

    • Jonathan Kuperberg

      How exactly is Ryan against clergy rights? That’s a lie.
      Nothing Ryan said would *force* Catholic clergy to refuse birth control. If you’re talking about same-sex “marriage” then it is perfectly legal for clergy to perform a ceremonial same-sex marriage; I consider it to be invalid before God, a blasphemy and an abomination but it is not a crime. To perform a legal same-sex marriage such a thing must exist in the law of the land; otherwise you’re saying clergy faith totally overrides civil law, and so then clergy would have the right to perform CIVIL polygamous weddings! Clergy’s rights to do civil marriages are just the same as any person legally licensed to perform them. If the United Cosmopolitan Christ-lites or MetroCarnalityCult or Deform Judaism or Uniperversalist Loonytarians fancy marrying two sodomites or sapphites under their religious rite, there’s NOTHING stopping them. (it is already legal for the FLDS Mormon splinter group to have *spiritual* sister-wives)

      • fiona64

        Hey! I bet if you tried harder, you could put in a whole lot more urban mythology/bumper sticker slogan bullshit! Step up to the plate, son! You’re slacking!

        You’re right on par with your usual level hate speech, though.

        • Jonathan Kuperberg

          Hate speech? Bashing institutions mainly for ultra-liberal Christians, Jews and those spiritual strugglers who have fallen off the scale is for their lack of religious orthodoxy, not because I hate them.

          • fiona64

            If the United Cosmopolitan Christ-lites or MetroCarnalityCult or Deform Judaism or Uniperversalist Loonytarians

            Hate speech … from your little fingers, dear.

          • Jonathan Kuperberg

            Wordplay isn’t hate. People on both sides use derogatory names to describe *organizations* they disapprove of, without hating the people who are in them.

            “Loony left” for UU is no worse than “religious reich” which you use. “Perverse” reflects their perverting of theology- many do not even believe in God. MCC is obvious, given that it was set up explicitly to approve of and affirm those who will not take up Jesus’ “die to self” line on their lusts, “deform” reflects what they have done with their anti-Torah, Halakha-bashing postmodern pluralism, and the UCC should be self-explanatory. All Souls’ Church- which has a website focusing on their “expansive view” of God while saying very little about morals, spiritual warfare and God’s holy judgment of sin- and Chuck Currie are representative of the hyper-inclusive cesspool.

            Do you not think I’ve seen people use similarly snarky definitions of SBC? NAR? CWFA? FOTF? I don’t see that as hate- I see it as people who are opposed to conservatism within Christianity.

          • fiona64

            Shorter Jonny: Don’t you dare call me out on my hate speech!

            You are touting known hate groups, Jonny. Way to go!

          • Jonathan Kuperberg

            Sadly, no. Shorter: *Do* call me out on my hate speech if I am speaking hatefully so I can learn not to do so. My point was if I’m just mocking a group for its political liberalism, that’s different. I call other people out on hate speech (not just racist, antisemitic and anti-immigrant but homophobic and misogynist too.)

            For example I recently called out one person for saying “sissy fags”, another for claiming gay men are pedophiles in disguise and a third for making rape jokes then trying to justify them. My moral views do not preclude an aversion to bigotry.

          • fiona64

            Okay, let me make sure I get this straight. The next time you tout known hate groups (e.g., FRC, FOTF), I can point that out as being the case? Thank you, I shall.

          • Jonathan Kuperberg

            FOTF and FRC are not hate groups. I don’t consider the “rulings” of the anti-Christians at the SPLC to be binding… and having read a lot of FRC/FOTF/AFA content I find them to be sometimes fear-mongering or inaccurate but never cross the line into hate. I know people quite well involved with such groups and they are decent, LOVING people who don’t want to hurt anyone but just believe the traditional view of family is best for society and for obeying God.

  • fiona64

    Jeb Bush, meanwhile, appealed to the largely evangelical Protestant
    audience to support immigration reform by citing Americans’ low birth
    rates, which he deemed an economic threat.

    Oh, here we go again, with the insipid GOP worrying that the brown people might outbreed the white. It’s all dogwhistle code for “We need another Lebensborn program.”

    • Jonathan Kuperberg

      They need to start *attracting* brown people to the party instead of dog-whistling Dixie so loudly that we hear across the ocean … this BS gets to me. Apart from it being morally wrong as racist bigotry and dirty politics, do they never read a book which tells them “YOU CAN’T WIN THE WHITE HOUSE WITH ANGRY OLDER WHITE GUYS ANY MORE?” Did they learn nothing from November? Why is it that so many of the pro-Family people I support cannot properly extricate themselves from a hornet’s nest of virulent racists and nativists? Christian or pro-Family cannot and should not be synonymous with whiteness. But it’s not that easy to extricate oneself from anyone on your half of the political map with a party duopoly…a force strong enough to have sunk the New Deal coalition.

      • Jennifer Starr

        Oh I wish they’d learn–you still have people around here who still think they’re hashing out the American Civil War. I could take you to a certain street in my town where each house is adorned with a Confederate flag and signs saying that “The South Will Rise Again.” So much has changed and yet so much hasn’t.

        • Jonathan Kuperberg

          Or the War of Northern Aggression… which had nothing to do with slavery or Black people, no sirree, just States’ Rights (to do what? ha) and freedumb for “REAL American Patriots” from Yankees, scalawags, white race traitors and the evul Washnton buracrats.

          These people are probably as ignorant as the “English Defense League” I’ve been questioned by here. one of who called me Jew-boy and told me I had no right to “judge gentiles” when I said why they were not really defenders of England but thugs pushing hate.

      • fiona64

        The GOP has become the party of racist white male Christians and their Stockholm Syndrome wives. On this, you and I are in complete agreement. However, much like you, the GOP is only “pro-family if that family looks a certain way.” Pity, really.

        • Jonathan Kuperberg

          I am in complete agreement that white male Christians and their wives, a lot of whom are racist, form the GOP base and they have consistently appealed to racism ever since Nixon’s “law and order” campaign, if not Goldwater. I do *not* believe that the pro-family wives and mothers you refer to have “Stockholm Syndrome”. That sort of language marginalizes them: a minority of women prefer to submit to a (loving) husband, raise children and stay at home, in a society which now gives them other choices. They deserve as much respect as independent career-minded women. It also compares the men in their lives implicitly to abusers or kidnappers. Others vote abortion single-issue or ignore the culture war altogether and vote on the economy, national defense, etc.

          As for pro-family, that “certain way” you contemptuously refer to is the morally correct one- other than in exceptional circumstances such as a parent dying or divorce due to violence/adultery- is superior to other so-called family structures so this is why we call ourselves pro-family. People understand that when they read pro-family literature and if they disagree they don’t join the groups or vote for legislators who support them.

          • fiona64

            Thanks for once again confirming your bigotry, Jonny. Once again, you admit that unless families look exactly like *you* think they should (i.e., one dad, one mom, and as many children as she can have until her uterus prolapses), you don’t support them.

            That’s *anti-family.*

            And women who hate other women (as these anti-family women you describe do)? The *only* explanation is Stockholm syndrome.

          • Jonathan Kuperberg

            I have explained that I am pro-contraception several times so why are you still treating me like a Quiverfuller and calling me a bigot?

            “women who hate other women”? Is that a deliberate pun on Women Who Want To Be Women, the anti-ERA group set up by the Church of Christ under Lottie Beth Hobbs? Which later changed its name to the Anti-Family Forum…oops, it was definitely “-Family Forum”, maybe I got the prefix wrong.

            To say women who don’t think like you must be haters with Stockholm syndrome seems awfully arrogant and hypocritical when you insist on relativizing everyone else’s truth claims, saying they are only *their* personal views and they shouldn’t apply them to others. It is little better than the anti-Clarence Thomas and anti-GOProud nonsense.

          • fiona64

            I stand corrected on your position in re: contraception, although you seem to be pretty anti-choice if said contraception fails. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and take you at your word.

            And no, “women who hate other women” is not a pun. it’s a fact of life. Such women do exist, you know.

            I cannot, for the life of me, understand such women. Why? Because they don’t want other women to succeed. I worked with and for such a woman, who informed me that it had taken her 20 years to get to her then-position, and she thought that it should take every woman that long … that what she called “women’s libbers” were just messing things up for women like her, by extending a hand to women coming up behind us and making the path a little less rocky than what she experienced.

            And yes, the only explanation I have is that such women have been brainwashed to believe that they *deserve* a lesser lot in life … unless, of course, they “marry well.” Then, they have, in their own eyes, been ‘blessed.’ It’s ridiculous. I am not taking away their right to live as they choose (unlike what they, or you, would do to me). I simply find it incomprehensible.

            PS: In this specific case, you have cited that single-parent families, or families with same sex parents are “not families.” That’s where the bigotry comes in.

          • Jonathan Kuperberg

            You are right, I *do not* class one person with children on their own without a good New Testament reason, two or more fornicators, or two men or women playing house with some adopted child/ren as “families” and I *will not* no matter what the law or secularist professionals might call them. I use Jerry Falwell’s definition “God accepts only one type of family: a male father and a female mother” with the exceptions for justified divorce or bereavement. I will not call any other set-up a “family”; others may do as they wish.

          • fiona64

            So, you admit to being a bigot if the families don’t look like you think they should … which is what I said in the first damned place.