House Speaker John Boehner told a crowd of thousands at the sixth annual Values Voter Summit in Washington D.C., that giving birth to 12 boys and girls probably was not convenient for his mother. But she did it, one at a time.
“For me, the right to life has never been political,” Boehner said.
Boehner, the first political leader to take the stage at the three-day conservative Christian conference, began speaking about jobs and the economy, telling the room of flag-T-shirt-wearers that it is time to “liberate our economy from the shackles of this government.”
But he switched gears to abortion politics soon after, eliciting strong reactions from the crowd when he accused the administration of using taxpayer dollars to fund elective abortions, a policy that is prohibited by the longstanding Hyde Amendment. Still Boehner called for the end of publicly funding abortions and said the House GOP was working on a bill to make permanent the Hyde Amendment.
“Beyond the life issue, we must defend the Defense of Marriage Act,” Boehner said, censuring the president for ignoring the “law of the land” and promising to take money away from the Department of Justice for refusing to defend DOMA.
This week, Boehner’s office announced it is raising a $750,000 spending cap to $1.5 million to former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement, who is defending the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Senate Minority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) speech followed the same blueprint as Boehner’s – jobs, abortion, same-sex marriage. He announced that a bill would be introduced next week to Congress that would “ensure no taxpayer dollars to abortion” and that would broaden so-called “conscience rights” to health care workers and pharmacists, to allow them to refuse abortion services and emergency contraception to women based on religious objections.
But what ultimately won Cantor a standing ovation was a proposal to “eliminate government funding for any and all organizations that perform abortions.” This effort – largely aimed at defunding Planned Parenthood, which receives more than $300 million annually for its family planning and reproductive health services – has already begun with the House’s recent introduction of a controversial Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill (PDF).
Abortion has already proved to be a star in this year’s summit, with every speaker addressing it in some form. Members of Susan B Anthony List are stationed throughout the Omni Shoreham Hotel handing out a joint voter guide introduced Friday by the SBA List and the National Organization for Marriage that list the anti-abortion/anti-same-sex marriage rights of the presidential hopefuls based on pledges they have signed.
Boehner and Cantor followed Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council Action, the lead sponsor of the Values Voter Summit. In his speech, Perkins introduced a theme that is likely to pervade the conference and how presidential candidates campaign for the support of the Christian voters in attendance.
Referring to a recent speech President Barack Obama gave about values before the LGBT lobby the Human Rights Campaign, Perkins challenged the current president in his absence.
“Mr. President, you’re right, this is a contest of values. And I tell you what, this Marine has never backed away from a contest. … This election is too important to elect a Republican. We need to elect a conservative …”
The rest of his sentence was drowned out by roaring applause.
Stay tuned for more Values Voter Summit coverage from The American Independent.