On Thursday afternoon last week, the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) hosted a breakout session entitled “Scammed Parenthood: Celebrating Slaughter in the Age of Empathy.” This panel was timely considering that earlier in the week, the U.S. Senate failed to pass legislation that would have protected infants who survive abortion procedures. Panelists included Alison Centofante, the Director of Strategic Communications for Live Action, Mary Vought of Vought Strategies, and Congressman Jody Hice (R-GA) who has represented the 10th District of Georgia in Congress since 2015. The panel was moderated by Matt Smith from the group Catholic Advocate.
During her remarks, Alison Centofante discussed the work of Live Action. Live Action was started by pro-life activist Lila Rose who did undercover reporting and research on Planned Parenthood as an undergraduate at UCLA. Now Live Action engages in a range of investigative and educational projects to promote the sanctity of all human life. Centofante said that Live Action’s online videos have received over 140 million online views. Lately, Live Action has taken their case to the streets. They have displayed pro-life videos in big cities like New York and Chicago. Even though these are liberal cities, Centofante said that the reaction has been largely positive saying “people are so moved.”
Congressman Hice said that because of the recent legislation protecting late term abortion in New York and the Senate’s inability to pass legislation protecting abortion survivors – there is unprecedented levels of interest in sanctity of life issues. He said that there is “utter disbelief about where the pro-choice movement has taken us.” He was dismayed that we are actually debating what to do with a live, after-birth baby and added “even people who are pro-choice look at this with disgust.” Hice said that there is currently a discharge petition that would bring a “born alive” bill to a vote in the House of Representatives. He concluded his remarks by encouraging attendees to support strong pro-life legislation in their respective states, stating “that helps us in Washington.” The moderator Matt Smith said that was a “great piece of advice.”
During her remarks, Mary Vought discussed giving birth to a child with cystic fibrosis. She said that seven in 10 unborn children who receive a diagnosis of cystic fibrosis are aborted. Vought told her own story, saying that when her preborn child was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, doctors and nurses “aggressively informed her of her choices.” However, no one recommended that she visit a cystic fibrosis clinic or meet someone with cystic fibrosis. Vought said that her daughter is five years old and having a good life. She said that at some point she will have an uncomfortable conversation with her daughter, saying that under the guise of “feminism,” “women’s rights,” or “choice,” there are those that would have celebrated the end of her daughter’s life. At the end of her remarks, she encouraged all the attendees to “speak out” in defense of the unborn.
After each of the panelists concluded their initial remarks, the discussion turned to Planned Parenthood. Centofante said that Planned Parenthood has a financial interest in abortion and does not provide prenatal care. She also said that the number of abortions they perform is going up while the number of other medical services they offer, including cancer screenings, is decreasing. Matt Smith agreed saying that Planned Parenthood performs over 300,000 abortions every year, but only does a very small number of adoption referrals. Congressman Hice touted the new HHS rules which will make Planned Parenthood ineligible for Title X funding. He praised the leadership of The White House and hoped the new rules would encourage pro-lifers.
A lively question and answer session followed the panel. One attendee asked if pro-lifers should support more programs for people with special needs. Vought said that people raising ill or handicapped children certainly need a support network. She added that she is part of many groups that support individuals with cystic fibrosis. The moderator Matt Smith was dismayed that “it is easier to find someone to end a pregnancy than find a Down Syndrome support group.” The last question dealt with how to effectively promote the pro-life message on college campuses. Alison Centofante encouraged students to be active saying, “no human rights issue has ever been won by giving up or backing down.” Centofante concluded the panel on an optimistic note, stating that “abortion is a dying cause; people are becoming more and more pro-life.”
Michael J. New Ph.D.is a Visiting Assistant Professor at The Catholic University of America and an Associate Scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_J_New.