By Elise Viebeck - 01/22/13 05:54 PM EST
The House's most vocal opponent of abortion rights condemned President Obama as the "abortion president" on Tuesday, the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) called the Supreme Court decision "infamous, reckless and inhumane," and sought to frame abortion as an issue that cuts against the American vision of equality for all.
"Someday, future generations will look back on America and wonder how and why such a seemingly enlightened society ... could have failed to protect the innocent and inconvenient."
The remarks drew themes from Obama's inaugural speech Monday, which called for equality for women and gay people and safety for children.
Limiting abortion rights was a priority for the House GOP in the last Congress.
The chamber held a number of votes that would bar Planned Parenthood from receiving public healthcare funds, outlaw sex-selective abortions and criminalize some abortions in the District of Columbia.
Supporters of abortion rights argue Obama was reelected in protest of Republican opposition to those rights.
Planned Parenthood praised Roe in a recent statement, saying the decision is vital to women's equality in the United States.
"As the nation’s leading women’s health care provider and advocate, Planned Parenthood understands that abortion is a deeply personal and often complex decision for a woman to consider, if and when she needs it," said Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards in a statement.
"To protect her health and the health of her family, a woman must have access to safe, legal abortion without interference from politicians, as protected by the Supreme Court for the last 40 years," Richards said.
A Wall Street Journal/NBC poll found Monday that seven in 10 U.S. adults say Roe should stand.
Smith leads the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus and spoke Tuesday at a press conference. His co-chairman, Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski (Ill.), and a caucus member, Rep. Diane BlackDiane BlackHHS chief meets with House Republicans on abortion dispute House votes to condemn carbon tax JetBlue hires firm to lobby on private airport screening MORE (R-Tenn.), also spoke.
In a statement, Obama said he would stand by the "guiding principle" of the decision, that "government should not intrude on our most private family matters, and women should be able to make their own choices about their bodies and their health care."