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By William Wan
Abortion foes — including some leaders among religious conservatives — put on a massive webcast last night aimed at rallying anti-abortion forces against current health care reform bills in Congress.
If the organization and strident words during the webcast are any indication, the anti-abortion tide that is rising against President Obama’s health care plan may shape up to be a sizable force in coming weeks. The webcast was notable for strong invective and apparently large turnout, and it laid out plans for continuing campaigns in coming weeks. (One notable setback for its organizers, however, was former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who had been prominently promoted as a lead speaker in the event but never showed. He was taken off the website’s speaker list sometime before broadcast started at 9 p.m. Will update if we get any word on why.
Some highlights from the webcast:
* James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, opens his pre-recorded message with this opening salvo: “The health care bill being advanced by congress is the abortion advocates’ dream come true.”
* Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, made claims that are sure to be challenged by abortion rights advocates that the proposed health care reform will be a bailout bill for abortion clinics and groups like Planned Parenthood.
It’s an interesting time in long-raging culture war over abortion.
A new bill proposed by two Democratic, U.S. Reps Tim Ryan and Rosa DeLauro, is aimed at encouraging pregnancy prevention and greater government support for young mothers. It was supposed to mark a new era in the abortion fight built upon “common ground” between those for and against abortion.
But from the way the conservative Christians were railing last night against not only the health care reform bills, but against the Ryan-DeLauro bill, it’s tough to say whether there’s a real thaw in relations. Some different opinions on this. Some believe it’s notable that Christian groups are backing the Ryan-DeLauro group, including a few Catholic leaders (although it’s not likely to get support from hardline conservatives like U.S. Catholic Bishops). Some interesting analysis here on that and how Obama may weigh in on the issue.
In any case, a few more details on last night’s webcast, which began at 9 p.m., lasted almost two hours, and, according to organizers, drew more than 35,000 listeners. The webcast featured 19 speakers (some of them pre-taped, most of them live) and was billed as the “largest pro-life event in history.”
Some future actions laid out by organizers: prayer campaign among churches and letter writing campaign over next few days to Congress.