CPAC’s anti-abortion rights panel “The Pro-Life Movement: Plans and Goals” was galvanized over the election of a Republican-led House, believing that the GOP leadership was committed to passing anti-choice legislation.
Hosted by Tim Goeglein, the head of Focus on the Family’s policy arm CitizenLink and a former Bush Administration staffer, the panel focused on attacking the health care reform law, Planned Parenthood, and Republicans who aren’t categorically anti-choice.
According to Goeglein, “the pro-life movement is becoming younger,” and the panel featured young leaders like Anna Franzonello of Americans United for Life, Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life, and activist Erin DeLullo.
Goeglein tried to balance his belief that the anti-choice movement was gaining support and energy with his fear that social conservatives may devolve into political obscurity and lose their place in the broader right-wing coalition. He said that smear-artist Lila Rose represents a “new generation” of the movement, but also anxiously insisted that the “pro-life and pro-traditional marriage” positions must “remain central to the conservative movement.”
DeLullo made the case that the anti-choice community needs to quickly mobilize against Republicans like Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels who proposed a “truce” on social issues. She maintained that the Club for Growth, a pro-corporate group best known for funding primary opponents against more moderate Republican incumbents, should serve as a model for a “permanent political organization” that is “dedicated fulltime to make sure the ‘anti-life’ vote is as suicidal as a vote to raise taxes.” “The right to life cannot be put on the backburner,” DeLullo said, arguing that the group must act now to stop “‘trucers’ like Mitch Daniels.” Of course, there are already a plethora of social conservative political action committees, but maybe DeLullo was making a plug for her own firm.
AUL’s Franzonello claimed that “abortion is the ultimate exploitation of women,” and discussed her vehement opposition to emergency contraception and legal exceptions for cases of rape and incest. She also floated the “death panel” conspiracy theory about health care reform, saying that the law jeopardizes the lives of “elderly and disabled persons,” along with pushing the debunked claim that it promotes taxpayer-subsidized abortions.
Later, Hawkins of Students for Life, a self-declared “abortion abolitionist,” discussed ways anti-choice groups can drive the conservative movement. She noted that while young voters tend to generally hold liberal and Democratic-leaning views, they tend to be more opposed to reproductive rights than prior generations. The abortion issue, Hawkins argued, gives right-wing organizations an opening among young voters. Hawkins said that young voters are increasingly opposed to legal abortion because “Planned Parenthood nearly snuffed us out of existence,” and then allegedly tried to coerce young women on college campuses to have abortions.
Hawkins lavished praise on “prayer warriors” and Lila Rose, calling her “a modern day muckraker” who will “go down in history” for her role smearing Planned Parenthood. She said that young anti-choice activists should embrace Rose’s tactics in order to get the attention of Republican politicians and Fox News, saying, “We can drive their agenda.”