Sestak Misleads on Abortion Funding, Pennsylvania Poll Has Toomey Leading

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 23, 2010   |   6:57PM   |   Harrisburg, PA

Pennsylvania Senate candidate Joe Sestak is facing criticism for misleading voters during a recent debate with pro-life candidate Pat Toomey. Sestak claims he did not support abortion funding, but voted for the ObamaCare health care reform bill that allows it.

Congressman Joe Sestak not only voted for the bill, he voted against the Stupak-Pitts Amendment [House roll call no. 884, Nov. 7, 2009] that left the abortion funding components in place in the legislation.

Now, Sestak is trying to rewrite history. In a debate on Wednesday night, Sestak asserted “I voted against taxpayers funding it [abortion].”

When his opponent challenged this statement, Sestak insisted, “Congressman Toomey, I voted against it.”

Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), told clearest, most important vote to occur in years in the U.S. House of Representatives on the issue of federal funding of abortion was the one about abortion funding in the health care reform measure.

“Sestak has voted pro-abortion 100 percent throughout his time in Congress, so his vote for government funding of abortion on demand last November was not surprising – what is remarkable is the brazenness of his attempt to mislead voters,” he said. “Under the legislation Sestak supported, the Secretary of Health and Human Services would have been sending checks to abortionists from the U.S. Treasury to pay for elective abortions.”

Johnson also says pro-abortion groups have long recognized Sestak as a lock-step ally for their legislative agenda.

He noted how Ted Miller, director of communications for NARAL was quoted in May in “Womensenews” as saying, “voters can count on Joe Sestak to be consistently pro-choice.”

Meanwhile, Rasmussen Reports released the results of a new survey countering some others contending Sestak is leading the race.

Toomey holds a four-point lead over Sestak, which is the closest the contest has been since May.

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely voters in Pennsylvania shows Toomey earning 48% support to Sestak’s 44%. A total of 8 percent either favor another candidate or are, mostly, undecided.

Pollster Scott Rasmussen cautions that the race is closer, but not because voters are abandoning Toomey. More likely, it is because Democrats who were on the fence are coming home to back Sestak, while Republicans and independents continue supporting Toomey.

“Less than two weeks ago, Toomey held a 10-point lead, 49% to 39%. The tightening of the race comes from an increase in support for Sestak while Toomey’s support remains steady,” Rasmussen said.

The survey was taken Thursday night, one night after the candidates held their first debate, each accusing the other of being too extreme for Pennsylvania voters. The candidates will hold their second and last debate tonight.

In June, the National Right to Life Committee endorsed Toomey in his bid to replace pro-abortion Sen. Arlen Specter, who lost his effort to win the Democratic primary to Sestak. The Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation also backs Toomey.

“As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Pat Toomey had a solid pro-life record,” NRLC PAC director Karen Cross told at the time.

“Among his numerous pro-life votes, Pat Toomey voted to ban partial-birth abortions and voted for a bill that would prevent minor daughters from being taken across state lines for secret abortions without parental notice. Pat Toomey also consistently voted against federal funding of abortion,” Cross explained.

On the other hand, his opponent, Joe Sestak, voted against pro-life legislation every chance he had, Cross said.

“Joe Sestak even voted to enact President Obama’s pro-abortion healthcare legislation, which will provide government funding for health plans that pay for abortion on demand, and will promote the rationing of lifesaving medical treatments,” Cross explained. [related]

“Pat Toomey has proven his commitment to protect our most vulnerable citizens – our unborn children,” Cross said. “Pat Toomey’s pro-life record should earn him the support of all voters who are concerned with the right to life and with the protection of the most vulnerable members of the human family.”

With Pennsylvania voters — including Democrats and independents — having strongly pro-life views, the issue of abortion could turn the race in Toomey’s favor.