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CPAC Anti-Choice Activists Heap Praise on Trump

Katelyn Burns

A prominent anti-choice leader told a CPAC audience Thursday that recent Democratic efforts to shore up abortion rights would be an electoral boon for Republicans in 2020.

Read more of Rewire.News’ coverage of CPAC 2019 here.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of anti-choice group Susan B. Anthony List, said abortion rights opponents would “go on offense” over later abortion care in a Thursday speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), calling Roe v. Wade a profound betrayal.”

Comparing the modern anti-choice movement to historical human rights movements such as abolition, women’s suffrage, and the civil rights movement, Dannenfelser attacked Democrats for voting against the so-called Born-Alive Survivors Protection Act this week in the U.S. Senate. Dannenfelser painted an inaccurate picture of the doctor-patient relationship, saying, “If you signed up for a dead baby, you’re going to get one, no matter what.” The failed Senate bill was based on the anti-choice myth that doctors are committing infanticide as a form of abortion. 

Reproductive health advocates called the GOP-backed anti-choice bill as an attack on women’s rights. “This legislation is based on lies and a misinformation campaign aimed at shaming women and criminalizing doctors for a practice that doesn’t exist in medicine or reality,” Planned Parenthood President Dr. Leana Wen said in a statement to Rewire.News. “The sponsors of this legislation have one goal and one goal only: to take away the right to safe, legal abortion. In the last eight years, more than 400 restrictions on access to safe, legal abortion have gone into effect, and this is yet one more attempt.”

During her address at CPAC on Thursday, Dannenfelser referenced a recently enacted New York law protecting access to abortion care and a bill in Virginia that sought to ease restrictions on later abortions. She claimed the ensuing discussion about access to abortion would bode well for Republican prospects in the 2020 elections. “In President Trump, we have the most productive pro-life president in history,” she said. “He is delivering on his promises to the pro-life voters who propelled him to victory and he is surpassing our hopes… The pro-life movement is ready to go on offense, defeat abortion extremists in all states, and aggressively challenge Roe in a court now transformed with outstanding constitutional judges chosen by this president.”

CPAC, hosted at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, is administered by conservative activist Matt Schlapp, whose wife Mercedes works for the Trump White House. Rewire.News reported in November that many anti-choice groups, such as Dannenfelser’s SBA List, met with senior administration officials, including Schlapp and Vice President Mike Pence, in a meeting at the White House to discuss the administration’s anti-choice agenda. Among the issues discussed was Trump’s Title X domestic “gag rule” banning family planning providers from referring patients for abortion care and forcing them to physically separate abortion services from Title X services.

The finalized gag rule was announced last week. According to Dannenfelser, government control of people’s reproductive decisions is part and parcel of the conservative agenda. “To make America great again, Roe must go and abortion must end,” she said in her CPAC speech.

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