Right to Life Responds to Ohio "Pro-Life" Democrat’s Complaint Against Pro-Lifers
by Steven Ertelt
October 12, 2010
Cincinnati, OH (LifeNews.com) — The National Right to Life Committee is fighting back against Steve Driehaus, the Ohio congressman who claims to be a "pro-life Democrat" but who filed a criminal complaint against the Susan B. Anthony List for holding him accountable by running billboards showing how he voted for the ObamaCare bill that included abortion funding.
NRLC submitted a sworn affidavit today to the Ohio Elections Commission, the same agency with which Driehaus filed his complaint. It demonstrates the Obama health care law does in fact provide federal subsidies for elective abortion.
NRLC’s statement was filed at the request of attorneys for the Susan B. Anthony List to help the organization defend its billboards saying Driehaus "voted for taxpayer-funded abortion."
In his complaint, Driehaus used a rarely-employed Ohio statute under which it is a violation to make "a false statement concerning the voting record of a candidate or public official," or to "post, publish, circulate, distribute, or otherwise disseminate a false statement concerning a candidate, either knowing the same to be false or with reckless disregard of whether it is false or not."
If the Commission votes that the disputed SBA List’s statements were "false," the statute gives the Commission the power to either issue a public reprimand or to refer the matter to a county prosecutor with a recommendation for criminal prosecution. A criminal conviction under the statute is punishable by up to six months in jail and/or fine of $5,000.
A three-member panel of the Commission will hold an initial hearing on the Driehaus complaint on Thursday.
The NRLC 23-page response refutes Driehaus’ claims that the bill and the executive order President Barack Obama signed will prevent all types of actual or potential taxpayer funding of abortions authorized under the new law.
It explains that the law that Driehaus voted for "contained multiple provisions that do in fact authorize (i.e., create legal authority for) taxpayer funding of abortion, and that predictably will result in such funding in the future — unless the law itself is repealed, or unless the law is revised by a future Congress to include statutory language long the lines of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment."
"Some of these provisions are entirely untouched by any limitation on abortion in existing law or in the PCACA itself, and others are subject only to limitations that are temporary or contingent," the document says.
The affidavit provides detailed discussion of four specific programs under which abortion coverage is authorized by the health care reform law, including the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Program (PCIP), the program of federal tax-based subsidies to purchase private health plans, the appropriation of $7 billion in new funding for Community Health Centers, and the section creating "multi-state" health plans to be administered by the federal Office of Personnel Management.
Johnson dismisses Driehaus’s reliance on the executive order as "highly misleading," noting, "There are no directives in the Order that apply to all, or even to most, of the provisions of the" new law, saying the limits in the Obama executive order are "narrow and highly qualified" that do so little to restrict abortion funding the president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America characterized the Executive Order as "a symbolic gesture."
NRLC attached 16 documents to the affidavit as exhibits, including a legal analysis of the abortion-related components of the law issued by the Office of General Counsel of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and documentation on state PCIP plans for Pennsylvania and New Mexico that were initially approved by DHHS although they covered elective abortions.
It also attached a Congressional Research Service report that confirmed that nothing in the ObamaCare law or executive order prevented the use of the PCIP funds from being used for abortions and the texts of the Stupak-Pitts and Nelson-Hatch Amendments that would have banned all abortion funding under the bill and which were not included in the final version of it.
"It is outrageous the Ohio law allows an incumbent politician, like Steve Driehaus, to haul citizens before an appointed government tribunal, under threat of potential criminal prosecution, for expressing an opinion about the public policy implications of a vote that he cast in Congress," Johnson told LifeNews.com today.
"This is an incumbent-protection law that is intended to intimidate critics, reminiscent of the methods used to chill criticism in certain countries run by presidents-for-life. In America, anyone should be free to express their views on the effects of the bills that Mr. Driehaus voted for, without fear of criminal prosecution or fines," he said. "Driehaus enjoys full freedom to dispute his critics, with the voters as the ultimate judges about whose claims are most credible. Driehaus apparently does not trust the voters to see things his way, and so he attempts to utilize criminal-law strong-arm tactics in a pathetic effort to intimidate and gag his critics."
Driehaus is the only incumbent to employ a criminal statute against his pro-life critics, but a number of other House Democrats are trying hard to suppress pro-life groups’ criticism of their votes in favor of the health care law.
Attorneys for Rep. Kathleen Dahlkemper of Pennsylvania recently sent a letter to local radio stations suggesting a Americans United for Life radio ad charging that she voted for "taxpayer-funded abortions" was "slanderous."
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