Johnson alleged that while employed at Planned Parenthood more than a decade ago, she was assigned an “abortion quota” of “selling” twice as many appointments as the previous year, and that physicians performing abortions there would make quips like, “Beam me up, Scotty.”
She touted Trump’s appointment of conservative judges and his administration’s implementation of a “conscience rule” — since blocked by courts — allowing health care workers to refuse to perform procedures that they oppose on religious or moral grounds.
Johnson, whose account of her time at Planned Parenthood has been brought into question, came under fire this week for old social media posts calling for a rollback of women’s suffrage and comparing abortion to the Holocaust.
Other speakers on Tuesday touched on abortion in passing.
Cissie Graham Lynch, the granddaughter of Rev. Billy Graham, criticized states that banned in-person church services during the worst months of the pandemic “while marijuana shops and abortion clinics were declared essential.”
She also blasted the Obama administration for trying “to make religious organizations pay for abortion-inducing drugs” — a reference to a long-running legal fight over insurance coverage of contraception, not abortion.
And Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron warned that Biden would “throw away the lives of countless unborn children.”
While Trump may have little progress to show on other key 2016 health care pledges, like replacing the Affordable Care Act and lowering drug prices, he has regularly wielded executive power to enact anti-abortion measures sought by his base and has packed the federal judiciary with conservative judges whose influence will reverberate for decades.
One of Trump’s most significant moves was cutting off a major stream of federal funding to Planned Parenthood, a longstanding goal of conservatives who helped carry him to victory in 2016. The Trump administration last year implemented a rule that banned federal family planning funds to any group that provides abortions or refers patient to abortion providers — prompting Planned Parenthood to pull hundreds of clinics from the program and forfeit $60 million in federal funds.
The administration — particularly Vice President Mike Pence, a longtime abortion foe — filled key White House and Health and Human Services positions with religious conservatives, some of whom came directly from anti-abortion advocacy groups. They have followed through with policies they long had advocated for from outside the government.
Shortly after taking office in 2017, Trump revived and expanded a ban on foreign aid to any organization overseas that provides or counsels women on abortions. The administration has also moved to restrict the use of donated fetal tissue from abortions in medical research, something federally funded scientists have warned could hamper the development of treatments for many diseases, including Covid-19.
The health department this year also sought to force Obamacare insurers to send separate bills to patients for the portion of their premium that would go toward abortion care, though the policy and some other anti-abortion measures have been blocked by the courts.
Despite his anti-abortion record, there were signs earlier this summer that Trump’s support among religious voters was slipping as the nation was wracked by the coronavirus pandemic, an economic crisis and a reckoning over racial injustice. Other recent polls have shown an uptick in support for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden among white evangelicals.
Anti-abortion groups like the Susan B. Anthony List, who praise Trump as the “most pro-life president” in history, are spending heavily to turn out voters this year.
Progressive groups, who warn Trump’s makeover of the federal judiciary puts abortion rights at risk, are also planning an election-year blitz.
Planned Parenthood is spending a record $45 million this election cycle, highlighting Trump’s anti-abortion record and the pro-abortion rights record of Democrats’ vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris. NARAL Pro-Choice America plans to spend nearly $35 million against Trump and Republican lawmakers in competitive races.