Winner of most despicable moment of the Values Voter Summit: Lila Rose, founder of anti-choice group Live Action, uses tragic, accidental death of Tonya Reaves from rare abortion complication to attack reproductive rights. Rose doesn’t mention that childbirth 14 times more likely to result in death (and that abortion is safer than getting a shot of penicillin). So, does Rose think that we should ban the right to have children? Yeah, sure.
I’ve been spending the day listening to the Values Voter Summit livestream — because what better way to pass a Saturday than by listening to the major Christian Right annual gathering convened by the Family Research Council? Since the conference started yesterday, we’ve been treated to an array of anti-choice, anti-LGBT, anti-immigrant speakers, including politicians such as Republican VP candidate Paul Ryan to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to failed presidential hopeful Rick Santorum, amongst other Christian Right advocates. But, for me, Rose’s comments definitely took the prize for disturbing, inappropriate, manipulative comments.
Rose’s Live Action is best known for its undercover “sting” videos of Planned Parenthood staff, which — usually with the help of heavy editing — attempt to display evidence of law-breaking or behavior viewers might just find distasteful, and then use those isolated incidents to attempt to take down the entire right to an abortion.
On women’s health and clinic safety: It would be nice if abortions could take place in hospitals, instead of being driven to special clinics by anti-choice advocacy and even terrorism. The ever-decreasing access to abortion is strongly related to the fact that abortion doctors face threats to their life (as with the murder of Dr. George Tiller); clinics face threats of bombings, arson, anthrax, and other violence; and harassment from nonviolent anti-choice protesters disturbs the ability to function of any medical facility they target, while creating the constant fear for staff that it could turn violent.
The U.S. should improve its maternal mortality rates, especially where poverty is a factor — our maternal death rates are higher than many countries, which should be unacceptable to anyone who wants to tout American as the greatest nation on Earth, as is so popular in conferences like Values Voters. But don’t talk hypocritically about protecting women’s lives when you’re keeping abortions from taking place in hospitals, when you’re not working to decrease maternal deaths, and when you’re attempting to force women back to dangerous back-alley abortions that killed thousands yearly before Roe v. Wade.