Much of the ideology of an anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ+ medical group has been exposed through thousands of leaked documents obtained by Wired magazine.
A link on the American College of Pediatricians website took users last week to an unsecured Google Drive that contained “a large cache of sensitive documents, including financial and tax records, membership rolls, and email exchanges spanning over a decade,” Wired reports. “The more than 10,000 documents lay bare the outsize influence of a small conservative organization working to lend a veneer of medical science to evangelical beliefs on parenting, sex, procreation, and gender.”
The ACP opposes abortion rights, parenting by LGBTQ+ people, and gender-affirming care for transgender youth, among other right-wing positions; its worldview is generally aligned with fundamentalist Christianity. It has joined the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine and other groups in the court case seeking to revoke the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone, a drug used to induce abortion. A conservative federal judge in Texas ruled in the groups’ favor, but an appeal is pending.
The ACP has about 700 members, according to records reviewed by Wired, compared with 67,000 for the more LGBTQ-supportive American Academy of Pediatrics. The ACP split off from the larger group after the AAP issued a statement in 2002 saying that being raised by LGBTQ+ parents did no harm to children. The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies the ACP as “a fringe anti-LGBTQ hate group that masquerades as the premier U.S. association of pediatricians to push anti-LGBTQ junk science.” The ACP, as one might expect, objects to that designation.
But the leaked documents provide further insight into the ACP’s beliefs, Wired notes. “Many of the College’s most radical views target transgender people, and in particular, transgender youth. … This includes pushing schools to adopt junk science painting transgender youth as carriers of a pathological disorder, one that’s capable of spontaneously causing others — à la the dancing plague — to adopt similar thoughts and behaviors,” according to Wired. This is “unsupported by medical science,” the publication points out.
The ACP further offers materials for doctors and parents to use in talking with young people about sex. “While the material is not expressly religious, it is clearly aimed at painting same-sex marriage as aberrant and immoral behavior,” Wired reports.
On abortion, a script contained in the documents encourages members to tell patients that “the procedure not only kills the infant you carry, but is also a danger to you.” It urges members to refer patients to so-called crisis pregnancy centers, which oppose abortion, and generally keep patients away from any medical professional who supports abortion rights.
The documents show the ACP has struggled to increase its membership and attain credibility; they outline various suggestions board members and others have made over the years. However, the ACP had a stroke of luck in its relationship with the Alliance Defending Freedom, the right-wing legal group representing the ACP and its allies in the mifepristone case. It agreed to represent the ACP for free, Wired reports. The anti-abortion groups face “significant legal hurdles but could ultimately benefit from the appellate court’s disproportionately conservative makeup,” the publication concludes.