Pro-Life Group Targets Vulnerable Democrats

The Susan B. Anthony List is taking a 23-city bus tour, “Votes Have Consequences,” to the districts of six Democrats who say they are pro-life and voted for the healthcare bill in March.

The districts of Steve Driehaus (D.-Ohio), Marcy Kaptur (D.-Ohio), Brad Ellsworth (D.-Ind.), Baron Hill (D.-Ind.), Joe Donnelly (D.-Ind.) and Kathy Dahlkemper (D.-Penn.) are the six targeted on this tour.

Former Colorado Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, the project director of “Votes Have Consequences,” said the Susan B. Anthony List polled in each of the districts before the healthcare vote and found the majority of constituents were against taxpayer-funded abortions. These results were communicated to the congressional members. Four of the districts (with the exception of Kaptur and Hill) were polled again August 6 and showed opinions on taxpayer-funded abortions have not changed.

Musgrave said the bus tour will be about educating constituents on their representatives’ vote for the healthcare bill, which she described as the “largest expansion of abortion funded by our tax dollars since Roe v. Wade.”

“Perhaps they thought that the executive order would give them some cover,” Musgrave said. “Not working.”

To get the healthcare bill passed in March, President Obama signed an executive order forbidding abortion under the new healthcare law except in the case of rape, incest, or the life of the mother. Several pro-life groups argued at the time that an executive order could be rescinded and did not offer enough legal, long-term protection. 

The battle continued this summer after evidence surfaced that insurance programs established by the healthcare bill in Pennsylvania, New Mexico, and Maryland would include abortion. The Department of Health and Human Services issued a press release reiterating that abortion would not be funded. Maryland had to change its initial literature which showed otherwise.

Steve Fought, a spokesperson for Kaptur, said the Susan B. Anthony List has a political agenda rather than an issues agenda in their opposition to the executive order.

“I think these so-called pro-life groups—I think their complaint is more with who’s signing the executive order than the executive order itself,” Fought said. “When George W. Bush signed an executive order on stem-cells, these same groups were not to be heard to criticize that.… I think what it points to is, simply, they have a political agenda. Their political agenda, anti-Obama, is stronger than their belief in consistency when it comes to pro-life issues.”

Fought stood by Obama’s executive order.

“The executive order, any way you cut it, is a good thing if you’re against federal funding of abortion, unless you have a political agenda,” Fought said. “Congresswoman Kaptur has been consistent in her voting pattern since she’s been a member of Congress. And she calls it pro-family.”

When asked why the congresswoman chose to side with a pro-choice administration instead of the pro-life groups, Fought said they viewed the executive order as a legislative achievement coming from a pro-choice President.

“Some people you’re never going to satisfy. Some people, it’s never enough. And those folks fall into that category,” Fought said about the pro-life groups who say the executive order doesn’t go far enough—which include Americans United for Life, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Susan B. Anthony List, and the National Right to Life Committee.

Fought said Kaptur consults her constituents for pro-life advice as well as on other issues, though he said the local pro-life organization was opposed to the healthcare bill.

“If you’re talking about the organizations themselves, they were opposed to it,” Fought said. “But, if you talk about the individuals, it depends on the individual.… Sometimes organizations don’t represent the interest of their membership necessarily, and I think that’s the case here with the executive order.”

Musgrave said she did a tour prior to the healthcare vote through Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania where she often stood outside the members’ offices with local pro-life leaders—the members’ constituents—and spoke out against the bill, with the message, “If you stand for the unborn child, we will stand with you.”

“Their constituents told them what they thought prior to the vote,” Musgrave said. “I believe that their vote for this expansion of abortion is going to have significant impact on the way people respond to them in November.”

Fought isn’t sure how voters will respond to the healthcare vote.

“There are some voters who will do whatever the National Right to Life Committee tells them what to do,” Fought said. “There are other voters who will think for themselves and look and see there’s no change in the Hyde amendment, there’s nothing in the bill that promotes abortion, there’s an executive order that prohibits federal funding for abortion. I don’t know how many different ways you can lock the barn door.”

Musgrave noted that on the day of the healthcare vote, two of the three votes passed by eight and nine votes, respectively. That same day, five of the six Democrats targeted (except Donnelly) voted against putting stronger pro-life language in the bill.

“These pro-life Democrats—so called pro-life Democrats—could have shut it down, and they didn’t do it,” Musgrave said.

Donnelly, meanwhile, stands by his record when asked for his response to the bus tour.

“I have been pro-life my entire life,” said Congressman Donnelly in a written statement to HUMAN EVENTS. “Since coming to Congress, I have been a tireless advocate for the unborn, and my voting record reflects this. I remain dedicated to my pro-life principles and will continue to support legislation that protects life at every stage.”

HUMAN EVENTS reached out to the Democrat representatives of each of the six districts for comment.