FRC conference sets stage for more aggressive anti-abortion rhetoric, legislation in 2012

Updated Feb. 1 with a clarification*

As anti-abortion activists protested (and abortion-rights activists counter-protested) the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade on Capitol Hill Monday, lawmakers and policy leaders gathered at the Family Research Council headquarters in Washington, D.C., to discuss effective anti-abortion strategy in 2012. Many of the speakers used super-charged language when discussing abortion and contraception, and goals centered on the GOP taking control over the Senate and White House in November to advance federal anti-abortion legislation.

FRC President Tony Perkins opened the annual ProLifeCon, claiming that an estimated 54 million abortions have taken place since the procedure became legal four decades ago.

"Where's the moral outrage in America today?" Perkins said.

Gerard Nadal -- an anti-abortion activist, blogger and microbiologist -- demonstrated some of that outrage, as he accused Planned Parenthood of spreading sexually transmitted diseases and accused the medical community of what he termed "aggressive eugenics." It's Nadal's contention that most doctors only recommend abortion when faced with anticipated genetic disorders or fetal anomalies.

"Doctors will tell woman, 'If you don’t abort, then I’m not going to treat you,'" Nadal said.

"The one thing that’s become crystal clear is we’re no longer arguing a woman’s right to choose," he continued. "I long for the good old days of arguing whether a woman has a right to choose abortion. Right now what’s happening in medicine is physicians are not putting on the table what a woman’s options are; they’re just telling a woman, 'You need to get rid of this baby.'"

[caption id="attachment_209470" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Gerard Nadal, anti-abortion activist and molecular biologist, speaking at the Family Research Council's ProLifeCon, Jan. 23, 2012 (AMERICAN INDEPENDENT/Sofia Resnick)"][/caption]

Nadal recently co-founded the Council on Poor Prenatal Diagnoses & Therapeutic Intervention, and on Saturday FRC hosted this group's first national conference, which involved several physicians, scientists and parents of children with disabilities painting the picture that most doctors are eugenicists. Nadal told The American Independent his organization will spend the next 18 months aggressively conducting research in order to influence public policy. The council is looking into birth control as well as abortion.

Two U.S. representatives spoke at the FRC forum: freshman Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) and 16-term Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), who last year sponsored a controversial bill that among other things would prohibit state health exchanges created by Obama's health-care reform bill from covering abortion services, with limited exceptions.

Smith co-chairs the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, which condemned the Obama administration's recent mandate that insurance plans will eventually have to cover family planning services, including emergency contraception.

"Obama is the enemy of life, as is his people," Smith said. "The past three years of abortion extremism by President Obama is a mere foretaste of what will be if he is reelected. Mr. Obama's abortion extremism will significantly worsen in a second term."

[caption id="attachment_209463" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., speaking at the Family Research Council's ProLifeCon, Jan. 23, 2012 (AMERICAN INDEPENDENT/Sofia Resnick)"][/caption]

Another outspoken anti-abortion congressman is Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), who was not at the FRC conference but is expected this week to introduce a bill that would ban abortions in the District of Columbia after 20 weeks, with limited exceptions. Late last year, Franks introduced a federal bill that would criminalize doctors who fail to prove that an abortion was not related to the anticipated sex or race of the child

Jeanne Monahan, FRC's director for the Center for Human Dignity, closed the conference with discussion of crisis pregnancy centers, which counsel against abortion and do not offer or refer for contraceptive services. Many of the more than 4,000 CPCs across the nation, which are usually affiliated with one of three networks -- Care Net, Heartbeat International, and the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates -- have received federal or state funding either through the Choose Life license plate program active in many states or to teach abstinence-only sex-education classes.

On Monday FRC released a new study (PDF) on CPCs in America, an updated version of its 2009 report. Monahan said that among FRC's findings was that in 2010, CPCs saved the government clients* $100 million by providing free services like pregnancy tests and ultrasound screenings. Monahan said several times that the $100 million is a "very conservative estimate."

Last year, the Guttmacher Institute released a report claiming that unintended pregnancies cost American taxpayers roughly $11.1 billion each year.

You can watch the entire conference recorded by FRC here.

Photo: Family Research Council seal on FRC's Values Voters Bus, Jan. 23, 2012 (AMERICAN INDEPENDENT/Sofia Resnick)