American College of Pediatricians

The American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds) is a national anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQIA+ Christian organization comprised of medical providers dedicated to reducing access to abortion, specifically for teenagers, and advocating anti-LGBTQIA+ policies.

Summary Extremism Key Players Influence Legal Financial Related Orgs


The American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds) was founded in Boston in October 2002 by Drs. Gerry Boccarossa and Joseph Zanga. The organization was founded as a protest by approximately 60 ultra-conservative doctors who departed from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) after AAP released a report supporting adoption by same-sex couples. Although current leaders have been hesitant to release information about its membership, ACPeds seems to be a relatively small organization. A 2022 leaked document from a recent data breach shows ACPeds has slightly more than 700 members. ACPeds is now based in Gainesville, Florida and operates as a non-profit corporation.

The organization’s name, American College of Pediatricians, is often confused with the AAP, which is the premier and legitimate professional organization for pediatricians in the United States and is much larger than ACPeds, with 67,000 dues-paying members. Similar to how anti-abortion centers (AACs) mimic abortion clinics, ACPeds’ name is likely intentionally “designed to be mistaken for the American Academy of Pediatrics.” Simple searches for one organization will often return web pages that discuss the other, which can lead people to ACPeds’ disinformation, under the wrong impression that it is a credible source, while, in reality, ACPeds is a “fake medical organization.” Since its founding, has gained notoriety by countering the AAP and scientific consensus with homophobic, transphobic and anti-abortion junk science. ACPeds pushes its medical disinformation in a number of ways, including through policy statements intended to influence pregnant people, health care providers, and lawmakers on abortion, child rearing, gender-affirming care, and adoption by same-sex couples, as well as by filing amicus briefs and joining court cases to lend support to other anti-abortion organizations and doctors.

ACPs founder Dr. Joseph Zanga described the organization as based on supposed “Judeo-Christian, traditional values … open to pediatric medical professionals of all religions who hold true to the group’s core beliefs: that life begins at conception; and that the traditional family unit, headed by an opposite-sex couple, poses far fewer risk factors in the adoption and raising of children.” The organization focuses on preventing access to abortion and gender-affirming hormone replacement therapy, spreading medical disinformation and hate along the way. In addition to these issues, ACPeds advocates in support of so-called “conversion therapy” for LGBTQIA+ individuals and against adoption by same-sex couples. Owing to these regressive and dangerous views, the organization has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

ACPeds is a member organization of the shadow anti-abortion group Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine and is one of the plaintiffs in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the 2023 lawsuit aiming to pull mifepristone, one of the two drugs used in medication abortion care, off the market.

Last updated 5/4/2023.


ACPeds’ Main Focus Is Advocating Against The Health And Safety Of LGBTQIA+ People

Andre Van Mol, Co-Chair of ACPeds Committee on Adolescent Sexuality, Compared Transgender Individuals To A “Cultish Religion” Forced Upon The World By The State. “Transgenderism is a belief system that increasingly looks like a cultish religion – a modern day Gnosticism denying physical reality for deceived perceptions – being forced on the public by the state in violation of the establishment clause of the First Amendment.” [Public Discourse, 1/24/18]

ACPeds Published A Blog That Amplified Homophobic Rhetoric That Wrongly Links Queerness To The Crime Of Pedophilia. “Driving this morning I began to wonder. Why isn’t the movement of LGBT not the PLGBT movement: ‘P’ for pedophile? …In one sense, it could be argued that the LGBT movement is only tangentially associated with pedophilia. I see that argument, but the pushers of the movement, the activists, I think have pedophilia intrinsically woven into their agenda. It is they who need to be spoken to and against.” [American College of Pediatricians Archives, 6/15/15]

Former ACPeds President Den Trumbull Falsely Claimed That AIDS Is A Natural Consequence For Queer People’s Sexualities. “I truly believe that when we are practicing a sexual act that goes against our natural design, it’s going to be very harmful to us emotionally, physically and, in the situation with AIDS, even infectious consequences will occur.” [Right Wing Watch, 5/8/15]

On Its Anti-LGBTQIA+ Website “Facts About Youth,” A Project Supported By The Conversion-Therapy Group National Association For Research & Therapy Of Homosexuality (NARTH), ACPeds Has Advocated For So-Called “Conversion Therapy.” “For unwanted sexual attractions, therapy to restore heterosexual attraction has proven effective and harmless.” [Facts About Youth, 9/1/16]

Former ACPeds Executive Director And President Michelle Cretella Spread Transphobic And Homophobic Hate At The 2018 Value Voters Summit.

[Twitter, 9/22/18]

[Twitter, 9/22/18]

ACPeds Released A Homophobic Position Paper Claiming Same-Sex Couples Should Not Be Allowed To Be Parents. “Are children reared by two individuals of the same gender as well adjusted as children reared in families with a mother and a father? Until recently the unequivocal answer to this question was ‘no.’ … [T]he American College of Pediatricians believes it is inappropriate, potentially hazardous to children, and dangerously irresponsible to change the age-old prohibition on same-sex parenting, whether by adoption, foster care, or reproductive manipulation.” [American College of Pediatricians, 1/22/04]

Former ACPeds Executive Director And President Michelle Cretella Appeared In A Transphobic Video Produced By The SPLC-Designated Hate Group Family Watch International. [YouTube, 8/17/21]

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ACPeds Has Spread Widely Debunked Claims About Abortion, Birth Control, And Reproductive Health

ACPeds Has Published “Studies” That Push Long-Debunked Junk Science, Including Incorrect Claims That Abortion Is Linked To Breast Cancer, Infertility, Or Higher Rates Of Substance Abuse And Suicide. “[P]ediatricians should be familiar with the short-term and long-term risks of induced abortion and also be able to compassionately discuss these risks with adolescents and involved family members. Some of the potential short- and long-term risks include increased mortality from suicide and other violence, as well as natural causes; increased risk of breast cancer; greater rates of substance abuse; and higher risk of morbidity and mortality for subsequent children due to premature births, especially very premature births.” [American College of Pediatricians, 8/2016]

ACPeds Has Spread Disinformation That Abortion And Other Reproductive Health Care Options Increase The Risk Of Breast Cancer. “Major risk factors for breast cancer include delayed childbearing and not breastfeeding, both of which result from IA early in a woman’s reproductive life. Choices to delay childbearing beyond 30 years of age, to limit or avoid it altogether, to abort a pregnancy rather than to carry it to term with the adoption option, and to not breast feed, all put young women at increased risk for breast cancer.” [American College of Pediatricians, 10/2019]

ACPeds Supports Abortion Bans That Endanger And Punish Pregnant People, Spreading Medical Disinformation In The Process. “The American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds) condemns recent efforts by several states to remove all legal protection from infants prior to, during, and shortly after birth. As in ancient Rome, it is now legal in 2019 New York, and soon, potentially other states, to kill a child through exposure, starvation, and/or the denial of medical care. … Although a post-viability pregnancy may rarely threaten a woman’s physical health, all that is necessary to preserve the mother’s health and life is to deliver her baby prematurely by induction or Caesarean section.” [American College of Pediatricians Archives, 2/19/19]

ACPeds Pushes “Abortion Pill Reversal,” An Unproven, Unscientific, And Unsafe Practice Peddled By Anti-Abortion Centers And The Anti-Abortion Movement.

[Twitter, 12/20/21]

ACPeds Spreads The Myth That Medication Abortion Is Unsafe, Pushing “Abortion Pill Reversal” In The Process. “The American College of Pediatricians strongly encourages health care professionals, policy makers, and women of all ages and their families to understand the serious risks associated with chemical abortions, especially when self-managed.  Additionally, pregnant women with regrets after starting chemical abortions need to be informed about the potential for abortion pill reversal.” [American College of Pediatricians, accessed 3/24/23]

ACPeds Spread Misinformation That The Human Papillomavirus Vaccine Gardasil Causes Ovarian Failure, A Myth Common In Anti-Vaxx Circles. [American College of Pediatricians, 1/2016]

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ACPeds Attacks Comprehensive Sex Education, Instead Relying On Disinforming And Patronizing Young Adults

ACPeds Advocates For Regressive And Paternalistic Treatment Of Young People’s Sexual Behaviors, Pushing For Abstinence-Only Education And The Removal Of Over-The-Counter Contraception. “A policy of either pre-prescribing ‘emergency contraceptives’ to adolescent patients, or making them available without prescription, carries significant medical risk and is counterproductive to the parent-adolescent and patient-physician relationships. The American College of Pediatricians recommends instead that health professionals encourage good adolescent-parental communication, and teach adolescent patients the benefits of delaying sexual activity until marriage and how to avoid early sexual debut.” [American College of Pediatricians, 2/2014]

ACPeds Approaches Sexual Education For Young Adults From A Fearmongering Perspective. “Sexual activity in adolescence is associated with harmful emotional and physical consequences including depression, suicide, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and sexual exploitation at the hands of abusive boyfriends or sex traffickers.” [American College of Pediatricians, 11/6/17]

ACPeds Board Member Dr. Robin Pierucci Said That Teenagers Should Not Use Contraception And Abide By Abstinence-Only Education, Because “Pregnancy Prevention Is Soul Education.” “Adolescents’ relational health is placed at further risk when, in the guise of offering help, adults or leaders introduce inappropriate information. This describes the OB world pushing contraceptive use earlier and earlier, as well as many ‘teen pregnancy prevention’ programs and studies. … It is concerning as a physician, a woman, and mother of teenagers that, more than 40 years after the pill was introduced, ACOG is doubling down on the idea that life will be better if more and younger women will just live on contraceptives. Teens deserve so much more than that.” [The Federalist, 9/28/17]

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At The Onset Of The COVID-19 Pandemic, ACPeds And A Coalition Of Anti-Abortion Organizations Falsely Claimed That Abortion Is Not Essential Healthcare In An Attempt To Ban Abortions

ACPeds, Along With The American Association Of Pro-Life Obstetricians And Gynecologists (AAPLOG) And Other Anti-Abortion Organizations, Attempted To Eliminate Abortion As “Non-Essential” Care During The Onset Of The COVID-19 Pandemic. “As representatives of over 30,000 physicians who practice according to the Hippocratic Oath, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG), the American College of Pediatricians, Christian Medical and Dental Associations, the Catholic Medical Association, and the Association of American Physicians & Surgeons decry the call to continue elective abortion during the COVID-19 pandemic made by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and others which falsely characterize elective abortion as essential healthcare. … [the groups listed] call for elective abortions to be suspended in accordance with the current CDC recommendations pertaining to elective procedures and office visits.” [American College of Pediatricians, 3/23/20]

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ACPeds Supports Texas’ S.B. 8, The Pre-Dobbs Six-Week Abortion Ban That Encourages Private Citizens To Sue Anyone Who “Aids Or Abets” Abortion Care

Dr. Robin Pierucci, Chair of the ACPeds Pro-Life Committee, Praised Texas’s S.B. 8. “The Texas Heartbeat Act, Senate Bill 8, has taken full effect, meaning an abortion cannot be performed once a heartbeat is detectable. … Dr. Robin Pierucci, Chair of the American College of Pediatricians *ACPeds) Pro-Life Committee says, ‘Texas’ recognition that the baby in the womb is in fact a real person is something to genuinely celebrate. It is, however, just one step in our desire to assist and support the entire mother-infant dyad.’” [American College of Pediatricians, 9/1/21]

ACPeds’ Official Twitter Account Tweeted Support Of S.B. 8.

[Twitter, 9/7/21]

When U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman Briefly Blocked S.B. 8 On October 6, 2021, ACPeds Called Pitman’s Preliminary Injunction “An ‘Offensive Deprivation’ Of Life.”

[Facebook, 10/7/21]

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Key Players

Founder & Former President

Dr. Joseph Zanga

ACPeds’ founder and past President, Dr. Joseph Zanga, specializes in pediatrics, having formerly worked at Columbus Regional Health/Columbus Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Georgia. He is a past President of the American Academy of Pediatrics and is still an active member, despite founding ACPeds in protest of the organization’s support for adoption by same-sex couples in 2002. Dr. Zanga is most vocally anti-LGBTQIA+, and believes that adolescents and young adults are not capable of making the best decision for themselves regarding birth control use. He states that the organization is open only to those who believe that “life begins at conception.” At an abstinence-only conference, Zanga alluded that the ideal family arrangement is a working father and a stay-at-home mother.

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Former President & Former Executive Director

Dr. Michelle Cretella

Dr. Michelle Cretella, the former president and executive director of ACPeds, is a pediatrician who left clinical practice in 2012. She now serves as an advisory board member for the newly incorporated transphobic hate group Advocates Protecting Children as well as for the anti-LGBTQIA+ organization Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity (according to a 2022 conference speakers bio). She is frequently featured in right-wing media organizations such as Breitbart News, Family Research Council, American Family News (formerly One News Now), and FOX News, where she spreads medical disinformation and hate narratives. Like Zanga, Cretella is most known for her anti-LBGTQIA+ and, specifically, transphobic beliefs, however, she has spoken against reproductive rights before, comparing abortion to murder. In a 2015 interview with Breitbart, Cretella pushed the false narrative that Planned Parenthood harvested fetal tissue for no scientific purpose. In 2019, Cretella was invited to the U.S. Congress to testify against the Equality Act, and had private meetings with undisclosed lawmakers facilitated by the Family Research Council. She was on the board of directors for the National Association for Research and Therapy for Homosexuality (NARTH Institute), a homophobic “junk science” organization that promotes conversion therapy, from 2010-2015. Cretella participated in transphobic conference sessions at the Minnesota Catholic Conference in 2017 and the Illinois Family Institute’s Worldview Conference in 2019.

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Former President

Dr. Quentin Van Meter

ACPeds former President Quentin Van Meter is a pediatrician, endocrinologist, and self-professed “transgender skeptic.” In 2016, he was invited to give a lecture at the University of Western Australia that was then canceled following numerous student-led protests against Van Meter’s transphobia. Throughout 2020, Van Meter gave “expert testimony” twice to the Pennsylvania House Health Committee advocating against healthcare for transgender individuals despite a Texas judge ruling that he was “not an expert.” He has not been vocal about his opinions on abortion or contraception, but when asked has referred people to ACPeds’ anti-abortion and anti-contraception statements on the topics. Van Meter is associated with the medical schools of Emory University and Morehouse College.

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American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG)

The American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) is a membership-based organization that uses its members’ medical certifications to push disinformation about reproductive health. AAPLOG and ACPeds are partner organizations of the newly formed Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine. In addition to collaborating on anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQIA+ press releases and letters, ACPeds and AAPLOG pool their resources to host large, multi-day conferences bringing together not only predominantly anti-transgender, but also anti-abortion, doctors, scholars, and activists.

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Alliance For Hippocratic Medicine

Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine (AHM) is a newly incorporated membership-based organization dedicated to opposing access to comprehensive reproductive health care by misinterpreting the Hippocratic Oath. AHM’s partnering organizations are ACPeds as well as AAPLOG, Christian Medical & Dental Associations, Coptic Medical Association of North America, and Catholic Medical Association. ACPeds is a plaintiff in the lawsuit Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration attempting to overturn the FDA’s approval of mifepristone. While AHM’s incorporation and website is new, the organization used this name in a November 2021 press release, and its partnering organizations have collaborated with each other before.

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Alliance Defending Freedom

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is one of the most influential right-wing groups in the United States with an additional international presence. ADF has represented in ACPeds in American College of Pediatricians v. Becerra and Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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Right-Wing Extremist Organizations And Individuals Cite ACPeds To Spread Junk Science

In A Nine-Month Period, Breitbart Cited ACPeds At Least 19 Times. “ has cited an anti-LGBTQ hate group as evidence that medical care for transgender youth is dangerous, harmful, and/or tantamount to ‘child abuse’ in 19 separate articles since March. The deceptively named hate group’s position on youth health position on youth health care is refuted by all major medical associations. … The extremist ‘alt-right’ website has continued to cite ACPeds as a legitimate source of medical information, using the statement as ‘evidence’ to oppose basic protections for LGBTQ youth. Since ACPeds released the baseless ‘child abuse’ claim in March, Breitbart has parroted the lie as fact in 19 different articles.” [Media Matters for America, 12/16/16]

Tucker Carlson Hosted ACPeds Executive Director Michelle Cretella To Spread Junk Science About Transgender Youth. “Fox News’ Tucker Carlson hosted Dr. Michelle Cretella, president of the anti-LGBTQ hate group American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds), on his show to attack transgender children, their parents, and their doctors. During the appearance, Cretella spread anti-transgender junk science and said transgender children are ‘engag[ing] in magical thinking’ and that treating them is ‘child abuse.’” [Media Matters for America, 7/25/17]

The Daily Caller And The Blaze Have Similarly Parroted ACPeds’ False Claims. “ACPeds is a favored citation among the far right because the organization disagrees with most major medical associations on LGBT and other social issues. … [D]espite its small size, the Gainesville, Florida-based ACPeds makes frequent appearances in conservative news articles, especially stories about LGBT issues. ACPeds recently published a position statement arguing that transgender health care for youth is a form of ‘child abuse.’ Breitbart, The Daily Caller, and The Blaze promptly published that claim without contrasting their primary source with the AAP. The truth is that most major professional organizations in the health care industry affirm the validity of transgender identity and that the AAP supports transgender youth.” [The Daily Beast, 4/13/17]

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ACPeds Has Written Letters To Policymakers And Administration Officials To Push Anti-Reproductive Freedom, Anti-LGBTQIA+, And Transphobic Legislation And Policy

ACPeds, Along With AAPLOG, Christian Medical And Dental Associations, And The Catholic Medical Association, Sent A Letter Of Support To The Trump Administration For Its Transphobic Guidance On The Definition Of Sex. “On December 4, 2018, the American College of Pediatricians, the American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Christian Medical and Dental Associations, and the Catholic Medical Association, representing over 30,000 health professionals across the nation, sent a letter applauding the Trump Administration’s intention to uphold the scientific definition of sex in federal law and policy. This letter is also endorsed by 32 legal organizations, policy groups, and independent physicians, therapists and academics, including bioethicists. The letter details how the previous administration’s unprecedented guidance to conflate gender identity with sex in law and policy is unscientific, potentially medically dangerous, and has already proven harmful to girls and women.” [American College of Pediatricians Archives, 12/6/18]

ACPeds, Alongside Christian Medical And Dental Associations And AAPLOG, Wrote An Anti-Reproductive Freedom Letter To Congress To “Correct The Errors” From An American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists And Physicians for Reproductive Health Joint Statement. “We state unequivocally that there is a difference between elective abortion – a procedure done to ensure that a baby is born dead -and the separation of the mother and the baby in order to save the life of the mother. ACOG leadership is deceptively hiding behind the confusion about the meaning of the word ‘abortion’ to imply that such treatments to save the life of the mother are the same as elective abortions.” [Christian Medical and Dental Associations, accessed 3/20/23]

ACPeds Signed A Letter To Congress Supporting The Conscience Protection Act of 2016 (H.R. 4828), A Proposed Bill Reaffirming Health Care Providers’ Ability To Refuse To Provide Or Cover Reproductive Health Services Already Permissible Under The Weldon Amendment. [United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 4/19/16]

ACPeds Signed A Letter Alongside Other Anti-Abortion Groups Opposing The Nomination Of Xavier Becerra To Become The HHS Secretary Citing His Pro-Reproductive Freedom Views. “National Right to Life and other pro-life groups who object to Becerra heading HHS point to the 100% rating by Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America’s for his record on abortion during his 25 years in Congress. About 60 pro-life leaders signed a Feb. 23 letter objecting to his nomination and urging the Senate to reject it; that letter followed a similar one they sent in December, shortly after Biden nominated him.” [Catholic News Herald, 3/19/21]

ACPeds Was One Of Several Anti-Abortion Groups That Signed A Letter To Former FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn Asking The FDA To Seize AidAccess And Rablon’s Websites For Directing Pregnant People To Medication Abortion Care. “We are writing to urge you to seize the website domains for AidAccess, Rablon, and any other entities illegally prescribing and/or selling mifepristone in the United States, and to further investigate their practices as discussed below. Just as FDA acted in December 2019 to protect Americans from websites advertising the sale of illicit vaping cartridges, we urge FDA to protect women from the distributers of abortion-inducing drugs who place lives at risk by circumventing your agency’s regulatory safeguards.” [American College of Pediatricians, 5/4/20]

ACPeds Wrote To The Ohio State Legislature, Asking The State Senate To Pass An Abortion Ban That Was Later Signed Into Law By Governor Mike DeWine. [American College of Pediatricians, 2/18/19]

ACPeds Was One Of Several Anti-Human Rights, Anti-Abortion, And Anti-LGBTQIA+ Organizations That Signed A Letter To U.S. Senators Dick Durbin And Chuck Grassley Asking The Senate To Not Pass The Equality Act. “[The Equality Act] would punish religious believers and treat them as second-class citizens who must violate their fundamental moral convictions to serve the goals of the pro-abortion movement.” [American College of Pediatricians, accessed 3/24/23]

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ACPeds Signed A Letter Denying That Abortion Is Part Of Essential Health Care For Adolescents

ACPeds, Alongside AAPLOG, Ohio Right To Life, Christian Medical And Dental Associations, And Catholic Medical Association, Signed A Letter Against The American Academy Of Pediatrics Affirming Abortion Care As Part Of Essential Health Care For Adolescents. “The purpose of this letter is to express our alarm at The American Academy of Pediatrics’ recent decision to reaffirm abortion a ‘right’ of adolescents. The American Academy of Pediatrics says it is ‘dedicated to the health of all children,’ yet in rendering a decision such as this, the Academy profoundly harms the health of children twice: First, by ignoring the grave psychological, health, and safety risks posed to the adolescent seeking the abortion; and second, by enshrining as a ‘right’ the decision for one child to procure the death of their own child.” [Ohio Right to Life, 1/31/17]

  • The Same Letter Supported Mandatory Parental-Involvement Laws, Which Threaten Young People’s Health And Safety. “[T]hey ultimately conclude, ‘The pregnant patient’s right to decide who should be involved and what the outcome of the pregnancy will be should be respected.’ This places the unsteady will of a still-developing, individual teenager above the embrace of a caring, life-affirming community; in rejecting parental consent and notification laws, the AAP places ideology above common sense, and gives physicians an ‘out’ in facilitating communication between parent and the vulnerable child.” [Ohio Right to Life, 1/31/17]
  • The Same Letter Spread Medical Disinformation About Abortion. “Today, countless post-abortion healing ministries located across the country assist women who suffer from Post-Abortion Syndrome, symptoms of which include: acute feeling of grief, depression, anger, fear of disclosure, preoccupation with babies or getting pregnant again, nightmares, sexual dysfunction, termination of relationships, emotional coldness, increased alcohol and drug abuse, eating disorders, anxiety, flashbacks of the abortion procedure, anniversary syndrome, repeat abortions, and suicide. While ideologues within the scientific community may deny these claims, the experience of physicians, mental health professionals, and those in the pro-life movement who care for women after abortion attest to a deeper, more profound, but often-ignored reality: women and the unborn suffer immensely from abortion, both during and after the death of the child. Denying parents the opportunity to intervene and protect their adolescents from these risks is a severe disservice to children.” [Ohio Right to Life, 1/31/17]
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ACPeds Sent A Letter Advocating For Conversion Therapy To Nearly 15,000 School Superintendents

ACPeds Once Mailed An Anti-LGBTQIA+ Letter Advocating So-Called “Conversion Therapy” To Over 14,000 School District Superintendents. “In 2010, for example, ACPeds mailed a letter to over 14,000 school district superintendents pushing so-called ‘ex-gay’ therapy and making other false claims about LGBT people in its ‘Facts About Youth’ campaign, which brought a scathing response from a researcher whose work the group had distorted.” [SPLC, 11/13/15]

  • The Same Letter Advocated Against Exploring One’s Sexuality As It Would Lead To “Harmful Homosexual Behaviors.” “Early last month, a small group called the American College of Pediatricians (ACP) sent a letter to the nearly 15,000 school superintendents in the U.S., stating that most adolescents who experience same-sex attraction at age 12 no longer do by age 25, and warning that prematurely labeling them could lead some ‘into harmful homosexual behaviors they otherwise would not pursue.’ The letter also stated that homosexual attraction and/or gender confusion ‘can respond well to therapy.’” [Wall Street Journal, 5/11/10]

A Researcher Cited In ACPeds’ “Facts About Youth” Project, Which Is Promoted In The Superintendent Letter, Tried To Distance Themselves From ACPeds, Saying ACPeds’ Aims Are “Misguided And Hurtful.” “Dr. Gary Remafedi, a University of Minnesota researcher also cited by ACPeds to support ‘Facts About Youth,’ strenuously objected to the misrepresentation of his research, demanding a retraction. Dr. Remafedi wrote to ACPeds, ‘this episode is especially troubling and egregious because it is led by colleagues within my own profession, who certainly have the ability, education, and experience to access, review, and accurately summarize the Pediatric scientific literature.’ He continued, ‘Implicating me in this chicanery is doubly damaging to my professional reputation and career by holding me accountable for misstatements and by associating me with a cause that most ethical Pediatricians will recognize as misguided and hurtful to an entire class of children and families.’” [SPLC, accessed 2/17/23]

  • Another Researcher Called ACPeds Disingenuous. “Therapist Warren Throckmorton, who specializes in sexual orientation issues, was also cited by ACPeds. ‘The [ACPeds] letter and [Facts About Youth] website are just disingenuous,’ Throckmorton told City Pages. ‘They say they’re impartial and not motivated by political or religious concerns, but if you look at who they’re affiliated with and how they’re using the research, that’s just obviously not true.’” [SPLC, accessed 2/17/23]
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ACPeds Has Spread Its Anti-Abortion Influence Abroad, Joining An Anti-Abortion Amicus Brief In Manuela v. El Salvador

ACPeds Joined A Who’s-Who Of International Anti-Abortion Groups In An Amicus Brief Seeking To Charge A Woman Who Lost Her Pregnancy With Infanticide. “Brief of Amici Curiae Human Rights Organizations Abogados Por La Vida, American College of Pediatricians, Americans United For Life, AFI, Asosiacion Chilena De Juristas Catolicos, C-Fam, Charlotte Lozier Institute, Comite Provida, Family Watch International, FAFCE, Fundacion Si A La Vida, Global Life Campaign, Instituto Conservador-Liberal, International human Rights Group, International Organization For The Family, ISHRI, Jerome LeJeune Foundation, Juristes Pour L’Enfance, Movimiento Restaurador Viva Mexico, Ordo Iuris International Law Center, Priests For Life, Project For Human Development, Red Familia, Susan B. Anthony List, United Families International, University of St. Thomas Prolife Center, Vida SV, World Youth Alliance in support of El Salvador … The petitioners seek impunity for infanticide as a step towards legalization of abortion in El Salvador.” [American College of Pediatricians, 2/22/21]

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ACPeds Members Have Influence Across Various Bodies And Levels Of Government

Former ACPeds Member, Anti-Abortion Doctor Diane Foley, Was Named Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary For Health By The Trump Administration, A Role In Which She Oversaw The Title X Program. “Diane Foley M.D., FAAP, was named acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health on September 1, 2020.” [U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 8/31/20]

  • Foley Was In Instrumental In Implementing The Trump Administration’s Domestic Gag Rule. “Title X, which Foley oversees as the head of the Office of Population Affairs—and which also includes the government’s teen pregnancy program—offers health care providers more than $286 million in funding each year. Just a month before her presentation, a new rule passed that would, for the first time, prohibit Title X recipients from performing abortions on-site or even providing abortion referrals. This effectively shut out a quarter of all clinics that were getting funding—including Planned Parenthood, which has traditionally received some $60 million a year from the program and provides more than 2.4 million patients with a slew of services, from birth control to cancer screenings to wellness exams.” [Mother Jones, 6/4/20]

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry Cited ACPeds’ Transphobic Disinformation. “Still, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry felt comfortable citing ‘the American Pediatrics’ (he got ACPeds’ name wrong), stating ‘transgender identity is mental illness’ on the Family Research Council’s ‘Washington Watch’ radio program in May 2016.” [SPLC, accessed 2/17/23]

ACPeds Executive Director Michelle Cretella Advocated Against The Equality Act At The U.S. Congress, And Met With Congressmembers To Tell Them That Transgender Identity Is Akin To Being “In A Cult.” “In March 2019, ACPeds executive director Cretella and anti-trans activist Walt Heyer went to Capitol Hill at the invitation of FRC to address members of Congress about the alleged dangers of the Federal Equality Act, which would include sexual orientation and gender identity in the Civil Rights Act. … After the Capitol Hill meetings, Cretella participated in two interviews with FRC president Tony Perkins following the introduction of the Equality Act. In those interviews, she discussed meeting with member of Congress and their staffs and referred to being transgender as being in a cult.” [SPLC, accessed 2/17/23]

ACPeds Has Supported Transphobic Bills Introduced By Congressional Republicans That Equate Gender-Affirming Care To Eugenics. “The Protecting Children from Experimentation Act and The End Taxpayer Funding of Gender Experimentation Act are the two most critical pro-child pieces of legislation introduced to date.  Transgender interventions in minors can lead to permanent sterility. No one is born with an opposite-sexed brain, and gender identity can align with biological sex across childhood and adulthood both with and without counseling to treat underlying traumas. The sterilization of emotionally vulnerable youth in any other circumstance would be seen for exactly what it is: eugenics. Rep. LaMalfa and Senator Marshall should be commended for boldly standing against this evil.” [U.S. Senator Doc Marshall, 3/16/21]

ACPeds President Quentin van Meter Was Hired By The Ohio Department Of Health To Defend The State’s Refusal To Change Transgender Individuals’ Driver’s License Sex Markers. “Van Meter, who is popular on the anti-LGBTQ circuit, touts the discredited practice of conversion therapy in addition to anti-trans pseudoscience. The Ohio Department of Health hired him in early 2020 to serve as an expert witness in a civil rights lawsuit against the state, which is refusing to change the sex on birth certificates of four transgender people. Such a move could put them in danger of being outed as trans.” [SPLC, accessed 2/17/23]

  • Van Meter Was Likely Identified By Ohio’s Department Of Health Due To His Transphobic Record. “A spokeswoman with the Department of Health declined comment on why the state selected Van Meter as its expert. During a deposition, the plaintiffs’ lawyers asked Van Meter how the state came to identify him as an expert. He traced his reputation, in part, to a presentation at the ‘Teens for Truth Conference: Countering the LGBT Agenda,’ hosted at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas. In an interview, he said he couldn’t say how or why the Department of Health picked him. ‘I don’t know, I guess I’m known for my opinion,’ he said.” [Ohio Capital Journal, 2/5/20]
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ACPeds Has Contributed To The Proliferation Of Transphobic, Anti-Human Rights Bills Across U.S. State Legislatures

As A Hate Group, ACPeds Has Contributed To The Swell Of Transphobic, Anti-Human Rights Bills Across States. “A small number of highly controversial doctors and researchers have been pushing these anti-trans bills. Representing organizations with seemingly professional names like the American College of Pediatricians or the Society for Evidence-Based Gender Medicine, they have effectively accomplished for gender dysphoria what anti-vaxxer medical professionals have sought to do for their cause: give credence to the notion that no scientific or medical consensus exists regarding the relative safety and efficacy of a given treatment, despite the clear and growing evidence to the contrary.” [Buzzfeed News, 4/16/21]

Current ACPeds President Quentin Van Meter Was Cited As Basis For An Anti-Trans Bill In Georgia. “ACPeds president Quentin van Meter, who is based in Atlanta, was quoted in a November 2019 press release from Georgia state Rep. Ginny Erhart (R-Marietta) regarding her sponsorship of an anti-trans bill that would criminalize gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth. In the release, Van Meter said children need to be protected from ‘medical experimentation based on wishful social theory.’” [SPLC, accessed 2/17/23]

Van Meter Presented On Behalf Of ACPeds At The Pennsylvania House Health Committee Subcommittee On Health Care Hearing On Gender-Affirming Care For Minors. [Pennsylvania House Republican Caucus, 3/11/20]

Van Meter Presented Medical Disinformation About Gender-Affirming Care To The Alabama Legislature Alongside The Family Research Council. “Van Meter made [the] argument in Alabama, one of the many states considering a ban on gender reassignment surgery and hormones for kids. Together with FRC’s Peter Sprigg, he was pleased with the reaction to the testimony. ‘Our side really presented beautiful science. Their side presented anecdotes. And [the] legislators could see that clearly. The science is on the side of this issue.’” [FRC Action, 3/4/20]

Going Against Legitimate Medical Organizations, Van Meter Testified For A Transphobic Utah Bill That Would Ban Gender-Affirming Care For Minors. “Dr. Quentin Van Meter, a pediatric endocrinologist from Georgia who testified for the bill, said gender reassignment treatments for children are ‘not based on science’ but ideology. … Van Meter said guidelines put together by the Pediatric Endocrine Society and American Academy of Pediatrics were written by ‘transactivists’ and did not have consensus among all in those medical fields.” [, 2/19/21]

The Author Of A Florida Bill That Would Criminalize Gender-Affirming Care For Minors Cited ACPeds. “A bill sponsored by Rep. Anthony Sabatini (HB 1365) would criminalize giving minors puberty-blocking medications or providing gender assignment surgery. Under his measure, such medical care would be a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. … Sabatini said there’s many studies, particularly in Europe, that show that these hormonal drugs and surgeries are harmful to minors. He has provided information from the American College of Pediatricians and from a transgender person who later regretted transitioning.” [Florida Politics, 2/3/20]

Leaked Emails Show ACPeds’ Committee on Adolescent Sexuality Co-Chair Andre Van Mol Corresponding With A South Dakota State Representative And Other Transphobic Actors To Craft Anti-Trans Legislation. “On a Saturday afternoon in August 2019, South Dakota Republican state Rep. Fred Deutsch sent an email to 18 anti-trans activists, doctors, and lawyers with the text of a bill he planned to introduce that would make it a felony for doctors to give transgender children under 16 gender-affirming medical care. ‘I have no doubt this will be an uphill battle when we get to session,’ Deutsch warned the group. ‘As always, please do not share this with the media. The longer we can fly under the radar the better.’” [Mother Jones, 3/8/23]

  • Van Mol Convinced South Dakota Representative Fred Deutsch To Rewrite His “Vulnerable Child Protection Act” To Allow Doctors To Practice Conversion Therapy. “In messages back and forth, some members of the group pushed Deutsch to make the bill even more restrictive. … Andre Van Mol—a member of a fringe, conservative doctors group that calls itself the American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds)—raised concerns that the bill as written might backfire by accidentally blocking health care providers from ‘attempting to change…a child’s perception of their sex’ when kids identify as transgender. Deutsch agreed to rewrite the section.” [Mother Jones, 3/8/23]
  • Van Mol Also Coached Deutsch With Hearing Talking Points. “Members of the South Dakota ‘team’—as they occasionally referred to themselves—hammered out talking points for upcoming bill hearings … Van Mol, the doctor, suggested Deutsch reply to the suicide prevention argument with a rebuttal published on a defunct anti-trans blog: ‘Why weren’t the 1950s a total blood bath for suicides if non-affirmation of everything is the fast train to offing one’s self?’ Van Mol asked, paraphrasing the blog post.” [Mother Jones, 3/8/23]
  • Emails Show That Former ACPeds Executive Director And President Dr. Michelle Cretella Was Compiling Lobbying Materials For “Vulnerable Child Protection Act” Model Legislation. “The emails illustrate just how long some major figures in the anti-trans movement have been incubating political attacks on transgender health care. For instance, [President and General Counsel of the Child & Parental Rights Campaign Vernadette] Broyles … was working in 2020 with ACPeds executive director Michelle Cretella and retired American Principles Project senior fellow Jane Robbins to compile a packet of lobbying materials in support of Vulnerable Child Protection Act bills, including a guide targeted at parents.” [Mother Jones, 3/8/23]
  • When Deutsch’s Bill Didn’t Pass, Cretella Went On A Transphobic Temper Tantrum. “The discussions on the email threads shifted from strategy to impassioned proclamations that trans people don’t exist. ‘The State is forcing people to participate in a lie akin to 2+2=5,’ Cretella wrote. ‘[A] man is NOT a woman! If this is not the definition of insane I don’t know what is!’” [Mother Jones, 3/8/23]
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ACPeds Co-Host Conferences To Convene Anti-Abortion Organizations And Health Care Professionals

ACPeds Collaborates With AAPLOG To Host Large, Multi-Day Conferences Bringing Together Predominately Transphobic, Anti-Choice Doctors And Activists. “[Diane Foley] panel was part of the three-day summit hosted by the American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG), a nonprofit that brings together reproductive health care professionals who oppose abortion. A pediatrician by training, Foley has been a prominent anti-abortion advocate and has in the past been affiliated with the partner organization that puts on the conference, the American College of Pediatricians, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated an extremist hate group for pushing anti-LGBTQ views, like linking homosexuality to pedophilia.” [Mother Jones, 6/4/20]

ACPeds And AAPLOG Are Hosting A Joint Conference Sponsored By Key Anti-Abortion Players Such As Charlotte Lozier Institute, Ethics And Public Policy Center, Life Legal Defense Foundation, Obria Group, Live Action, Heritage Foundation, Human Life International, Alliance Defending Freedom, And Students For Life Of America. “This conference brings together pro-life researchers, physicians, mental health and advanced practice providers, medical students, medical residents, and policy makers for an educational seminar covering the most important topics related to life issues. Featuring great speakers with experience and expertise in addressing the most difficult questions facing pro-life physicians: from maternal mortality to sex ed, from medication abortion to reversing Mifepristone, this conference will equip you to tackle the difficult questions.” [AAPLOG, accessed 2/16/23]

  • ACPeds And AAPLOG’s Conference Offers Continuing Medical Education (CME) Credits Through The Christian Medical & Dental Association’s Accreditation With The Accreditation Council For Continuing Medical Education (ACCME). [AAPLOG, accessed 2/16/23]
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Documents Inadvertently Made Public Due To A Spring 2023 Data Breach Shed Light On The Outsized Influence Wielded By ACPeds

The Leak Provided Evidence Of How ACPeds Has Been Able To Peddle Their Fringe Beliefs Into Mainstream Avenues. “The leaked records, first reported by WIRED, offer an unprecedented look at the groups and personnel central to that campaign. They also describe an organization that has benefited greatly by exaggerating its own power, even as it has struggled quietly for two decades to grow in size and gain respect. The records show how the College, which the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) describes as a hate group, managed to introduce fringe beliefs into the mainstream simply by being, as the founder of Fox News once put it, ‘the loudest voice in the room.’” [Wired, 5/2/23]

A Recent Texas Health Commissioner, Who Asked ACPeds To Keep His Affiliation Private, Was Included On Its Leaked Membership List. “While the group’s membership rolls are not public, the leak has outed most if not all of its members. A cursory review of the member lists surfaced one name of note: a recent commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, who after joining in 2019 asked that his membership with the group remain a secret.” [Wired, 5/2/23]

ACPeds Initiated A Retaliatory Campaign Against The Southern Poverty Law Center Following SPLC’s Designation of ACPeds As A Hate Group. “The SPLC’s ‘hate group’ designation, which the College forcefully disputes, haunted its fundraising efforts, records reveal. A barrage of emails in 2014 show that the label cost the group the chance to benefit from an Amazon program that would eventually distribute $450 million to charities across the globe. Amazon would deny the College’s application, stating that it relied on the SPLC to determine which charities fall into certain ineligible categories. A strategy document would later refer to a ‘unified plan’ among the College and its allies to ‘continue discrediting the SPLC,’ which included a campaign aimed at lowering its rating at Charity Navigator, one of the web’s most influential nonprofit evaluators. One of the group’s admins noted that despite SPLC’s label, another charity monitor, GuideStar, listed the College as being in ‘good standing.’” [Wired, 5/2/23]

Leaked Documents Made Plain ACPeds Plans To Recruit Pediatricians, Parents And Public School Officials In Their Plans To Unjustly Target Transgender Youth. “Many of the College’s most radical views target transgender people, and in particular, transgender youth. The leak, which had been indexed by Google, includes volumes of literature crafted specifically to influence relationships between practicing pediatricians, parents, and their children. It includes reams of marketing material the College aims to distribute widely among public school officials. 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.” [Wired, 5/2/23]

ACPeds Devious Plans To Direct Pregnant Minors To Anti-Abortion Centers Were Also Released As Part Of Data Leak. “Another document the group shared with its members contains a script for appointments with pregnant minors. Its purpose is made evidently clear: The advice is engineered specifically to reduce the odds of minors coming into contact with medical professionals not strictly opposed to abortion. A practice script recommends the doctor inform the minor that they ‘strongly recommend against’ abortion, adding ‘the procedure not only kills the infant you carry, but is also a danger to you.’ (Medically, the term ‘fetus’ and ‘infant’ are not interchangeable, the latter referring to a newborn baby less than one year old.) The doctors are urged to recommend that the minor visit a website that, like others shared with patients, is not expressly religious but will only direct visitors to Catholic-run ‘crisis pregnancy centers,’ which strictly reject abortion. The same site is widely promoted by anti-abortion groups such as National Right to Life, which last year held that it should be illegal to terminate the pregnancy of a 10-year-old rape victim.” [Wired, 5/2/23]

The Strong Ties Between ACPeds And ADF Were Elucidated In Leaked Documents. “The effort to ban mifepristone, which the Supreme Court paused last month pending further review, faces significant legal hurdles but could ultimately benefit from the appellate court’s disproportionately conservative makeup. Most of the legal power in the fight was supplied by a much older and better funded group, the Alliance Defending Freedom, which has established ties to some of the country’s most politically elite—former vice president Mike Pence and Supreme Court justice Amy Coney Barrett among them. A contract in the leaked documents dated April 2021 shows the ADF agreeing to legally represent the College free of charge. It stipulates that ADF’s ability to subsidize expenses incurred during lawsuits would be limited by ethical guidelines; however, it could still forgive any lingering costs simply by declaring the College ‘indigent.’” [Wired, 5/2/23]

Leaked Documents Show ACPeds Strategized How To Spread Its Anti-LGBTQIA+ And Anti-Reproductive Health Junk Science By Publishing Its Rejected Journal Article Submissions On Its Website. “Internal documents show that the group’s directors quickly encountered hurdles operating on the fringe of accepted science. Some claimed to be oppressed. Most of the College’s research had been ‘written by one person,’ according to minutes from a 2006 meeting, which were included in the leak. The College was failing to make a splash. In the future, one director suggested, papers rejected by medical journals ‘should be published on the web.’ The vote to do so was unanimous (though the board decided the term ‘not published’ was nicer than ‘rejected’). A second director put forth a motion to create a separate ‘scientific section’ on the group’s website, strictly for linking to articles published in medical journals. The motion was quashed after it dawned on the board that they didn’t ‘have enough articles’ to make the page ‘look professional.’” [Wired, 5/2/23]

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ACPeds Is Incorporated In Florida As A 501(c)(3) Non-Profit

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