Pro-Life Democrats Respond to Pro-Life Groups Targeting Them on Abortion Vote

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 22, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pro-Life Democrats Respond to Pro-Life Groups Targeting Them on Abortion Vote

by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 22
, 2010

Washington, DC ( — Members of Congress who were formerly considered strong pro-life Democrats but who have been targeted by pro-life groups because of their vote for the pro-abortion health care bill are responding. They say pro-life groups have the analysis wrong about the bill and the executive order President Obama signed.

As has reported, pro-life organizations are spending big bucks targeting pro-life (and pro-abortion) Democrats in competitive districts who voted for the health care bill and its massive abortion funding.

The Family Research Council announced a $500,000 campaign to target the districts of 20 Democratic incumbents who voted for the pro-abortion health program.

The Susan B. Anthony List launched a $150,000 campaign of radio ads and automated phone calls in the districts of ‘pro-life’ Democrats, including Stupak’s who voted for the pro-abortion health care bill. The calls and ads were designed to encourage pro-life voters to respond to those votes.

And Right to Life groups stripped the endorsements of pro-life Democrats in West Virginia and Ohio.

Rep. Allan Mollohan, one of the West Virginia lawmakers to lose an endorsement, talked with Politico about it and said he was confident the bill didn’t fund abortions.

“They have been concerned about my vote and they have expressed that, and they have taken a very strong position that the vote on the health care bill was not the pro-life vote they were looking for,” Mollohan said. “I disagree that it’s not a pro-life vote.”

And Minnesota congressman James Oberstar, the former co-chairman of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, also responded.

“Members have to defend themselves, but the facts are on the side of the Democratic right-to-life members,” Oberstar told Politico.

“It was good enough for these groups that George Bush signed an executive order to affirm that stem cell research was off the table, then they chose not to accept the executive order of this president reaffirming past law, past practice and affirming that for the future. So they’re without merit," he said.

Responding to the campaigns, Indiana Rep. Joe Donnelly has posted a new statement on campaign web site.

“I have consistently opposed abortion and will continue to do so in Congress," he said.

Congressman Bart Stupak used the argument about pro-life groups supporting the Bush executive order, but they say that order and the Obama executive order are entirely different because one dealt with federal law, which can’t be changed by an executive order, while Bush’s dealt with changeable federal regulations.

FRC and other pro-life groups also point to legal rulings during the Bush administration in the 1980s that make the executive order a failed solution to the abortion funding in the bill.

Court rulings in cases such as Commerce of U.S. v Reich and Hamdan v. Rumsfeld make it very clear that such an executive order likely wouldn’t survive, they contend.

Richard Doerflinger of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops previously condemned the executive order idea.

"The statutory mandate construed by the courts would override any executive order or regulation. This is the unanimous view of our legal advisors and of the experts we have consulted on abortion jurisprudence. Only a change in the law enacted by Congress, not an executive order, can begin to address this very serious problem in the legislation," he explained.

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