Leading pro-abortion organizations and the nation’s biggest abortion business are raising big bucks from donors thanks to the new mandate the Obama administration put in place forcing religious employers to pay for birth control and drugs that cause abortions.
The new mandate, which the Obama administration promises it will revise to force insurance companies to pay for the drugs, has sparked strong opposition from pro-life organizations. However, as Politico reports, the pro-abortion political group Emily’s List is raising significant sums of money from its donors because of it.
EMILY’s List — whose mission is to elect pro-abortion rights Democratic women — has raised nearly twice as much for candidates at this point in the 2012 cycle as it did during the entire 2010 cycle, according to spokeswoman Jess McIntosh. And that’s with about eight months to go.
“We are on track to have one of the best first quarters we’ve ever had for candidate fundraising,” said EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock.
Women’s groups were preparing to fend off a number of new state laws that restrict abortion access, not pull in new cash after attacks on Planned Parenthood funding and a comment from Rush Limbaugh about a female law student shifted momentum in their direction.
The problem with the renewed fundraising could pull some Senate races closer than expected — at a time when the pro-life movement needs to retake the Senate in order to be better positions to approve pro-life judges or block pro-abortion ones from ascending to the Supreme Court.
The fundraising boon is good news for female candidates, who are in a much stronger position in races across the country than they might have expected just a year ago when reproductive health was not expected to be a key issue this election.
EMILY’s List is helping to raise money for 37 women running for Congress — 11 in the Senate and 26 in the House. Much of the money is going to big name Senate candidates like Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts and Claire McCaskill in Missouri.
But lesser-known candidates are positioned to benefit, too, like Lois Frankel (D-Fla.), who is running for the seat held by deep-pocketed tea party favorite Rep. Allen West, and Ann McLane Kuster (D-N.H.), who’s challenging Republican Rep. Charlie Bass.
This cycle, pro-abortion rights groups are confident that these are winning issues for them, and they’re using recent controversies to their advantage.
In December, even before women’s health had become a major focus of the campaign, women running for Congress had already raked in more than $1 million from donors giving through EMILY’s List, which earmarks contributions slated for their endorsed candidates, according to federal election data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Meanwhile, the battle over the Obama HHS mandate is also helping Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood sent an email on International Women’s Day last week, blasting Rush Limbaugh for calling a Georgetown Law student a “slut” for her views on birth control and Texas Gov. Rick Perry for a state law that blocks funding to Planned Parenthood.
“Over the last several weeks, we’ve seen a significant uptick in fundraising,” said Planned Parenthood spokesman Tait Sye.
He declined to offer fundraising numbers, but the group saw an immediate boom last month after the controversy surrounding the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s decision to cut off funding in light of a congressional investigation led by House Republicans. Planned Parenthood raised $650,000 in the 24 hours following the flap.
“Over the last several weeks, Planned Parenthood has signed up tens of thousands of new supporters, who have been speaking out, engaging their friends and families and donating time and money,” Sye said.
The growth is not only financial but comes in the form of new pro-abortion activists connecting with leading pro-abortion groups online.
And NARAL Pro-Choice America saw the largest increase ever on its email list and Twitter recruits in February 2012, compared to the previous year, with about 850 email recruits per day, according to spokeswoman Samantha Gordon.
Since Republicans took control of the House of Representatives in the 2010 election, EMILY’s List has doubled its membership, Schriock said, with more than 1 million members now “and growing rapidly in the last three months.”
The fundraising and activism growth should prompt pro-life advocates to up their efforts to bring in new fund and new people connecting with pro-life organizations online to keep up with the other side.