Voting for President Barack Obama’s health care bill proved a fatal mistake in Tuesday’s election for nearly 20 self-professed pro-life Democrats who sided with outgoing Democratic Michigan Rep. Bart Stupak during the health care debate.
Pro-life groups such as National Right to Life, the Susan B. Anthony List, as well as the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), sought to remind voters that their votes equaled a vote for federal funding of abortion ̶ something rejected by roughly 60-80 percent of all voters according to various estimates.
Democratic Reps. Steve Driehaus of Ohio and Kathy Dahlkemper of Pennsylvania were among the 15 out of 20 pro-life Democrats in the Susan B. Anthony List’s sights who fell on Election Day.
Only Indiana Rep. Joe Donnelly remained standing among the targeted pro-life Democrats at the end of the night despite resources thrown against him by the Republican National Committee, NRCC, Susan B. Anthony List and other groups.
“These Democrats ran on pro-life platforms, but they showed their true colors by supporting a bill that allowed federal funding of abortion. Authenticity matters, and it gave voters one more reason to reject Democrats and their out-of-touch agenda at the ballot box,” NRCC spokesman Paul Lindsay wrote in an e-mailed statement to The Daily Caller.
Tuesday’s losses followed a frequently nasty campaign that included Driehaus’s filing of a criminal complaint against the Susan B. Anthony List and its president, Marjorie Dannenfelser, with the Ohio Board of Elections on account of alleged false advertising on several billboards the pro-life group put up, aimed at him.
The Democratic defeats underscored the shakiness of former White House Chief of Staff and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) chief Rahm Emanuel’s 2006 strategy of recruiting pro-life Democrats to give his party a majority, Dannenfelser said.
“They made it impossible for them to actually exercise their conscience,” Dannenfelser said. “They made it impossible for them to vote pro-life, and when they didn’t vote pro-life they got unelected and lost their majority again.
“[Rep. Henry] Waxman said he would be happy to see these guys go, and he got his request fulfilled.”
Taking an unwavering pro-choice position on abortion proved reckless for the Democrats because it cost them the majority, Dannenfelser said.
The DCCC declined to comment on the role abortion played in these defeats, but Democrats for Life Executive Director Kristen Day said the Susan B. Anthony List’s targeting of pro-life Democrats undermines the overall pro-life movement.
“It is a good strategy for the Republican Party to target pro-life Democrats because if you have an emerging strength of pro-life Democrats in the party, it takes it away as a wedge issue,” Day said. “You can’t be a bipartisan pro-life group as [the Susan B. Anthony List] claims to be if you are going to try to defeat people who are willing to stand up to the Democratic leadership and are willing to go to bat to get pro-life legislation passed.
“We’ll see what the conservative groups want to do in the future, but right now it seems groups like the Susan B. Anthony List want to remove the pro-life voice from the Democratic Party.”
Day denies Stupak and his fellow pro-life Democrats caved on abortion because they favored the health care law all along and had no intention of killing the bill unlike conservative groups.
Concerns the president’s executive order does not go far enough in preventing federal money from paying for abortion are unfounded because the underlying Hyde Amendment likely will never be repealed, Day said.
Tuesday’s election leaves 26 self-professed pro-life Democrats behind in the House.
Abortion In The 112th Congress
A spokesman for likely incoming Speaker of the House, John Boehner, who did not wish to be identified, said banning federal money from paying for health care plans that fund abortion will be among the GOP’s priorities in the next Congress.
Although Day and Dannenfelser’s rival groups clashed during the election season, they share the same desire to see a ban on federal funding of abortion reinserted into the health care law.
Defunding Planned Parenthood should also be a priority in the next Congress because it equals taxpayer funding of abortion, Dannenfelser said.