Senator Bob Casey was supposed to be the pro-life Democratic champion in the style of his father that the pro-life movement needed for a bipartisan attack on abortion.
But, to pro-life advocates in Pennsylvania, he has been a colossal failure because of his frequent votes against the pro-life position on key legislation and amendments — votes he and his staff describe as pro-life.
Since his election, Casey has received just a 50 percent grade from the National Right to Life Committee covering numerous votes on abortion, abortion funding and other issues such as limiting the political free speech rights of pro-life organizations.
Casey backed the ObamaCare bill even after the Senate failed to approve language he supported ensuring it would not fund abortions at taxpayer expense. Though every major pro-life group — and the nation’s Catholic bishops — told senators they wanted the bill defeated because of the abortion funding component, Casey went along with pro-abortion activists who railroaded it through the Senate.
He also upset pro-life advocates when he voted in January 2009 against an amendment that would have restored the pro-life “Mexico City Policy” that President Barack Obama reversed — therefore allowing taxpayer dollars to flow to groups like Planned Parenthood that promotes and performs abortions in other nations.
Those votes are enough for Helen Gohsler, president of the Scranton chapter of Pennsylvanians for Human Life, to say Casey should be scrutinized by pro-life voters.
“To really call himself pro-life is not quite right,” she told Roll Call magazine about the man who toppled pro-life Sen. Rick Santorum. “He betrayed us.”
Ciccocioppo, executive director of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation added: “Pro-lifers in Pennsylvania are terribly disappointed with Sen. Casey’s vote in favor of President Obama’s health care reform law.”
“We know that Casey’s office was flooded with constituents urging him to vote ‘No.’ In the end, on the biggest vote of his career, he didn’t listen to the voters. Pro-life Pennsylvanians have long memories,” Ciccocioppo told the political newspaper.
Casey spokesman Larry Smar said the opposition to Casey is political and partisan, not over pro-life issues.
“Those groups were for Rick Santorum. He was their guy. They didn’t support Sen. Casey then, and they’re not going to support him now,” he told roll Call. “There’s a big difference between real Pennsylvanians and these interest groups.”
“He makes no secret of a pro-life voting record. He’s taken some very difficult pro-life votes,” added Casey’s chief of staff, Jim Brown. “We’re pretty proud actually of what he did in health care.”
When asked by the Washington Times last year about what Robert Casey, the late and former Pennsylvania governor, would have thought of the abortion funding in the health care bill, Casey didn’t know.
“I have no way of knowing,” he told the newspaper.
In the interview, Casey appeared to rely on the mantra that “we at least had good intentions, but our efforts failed” when saying he did his best with the Nelson amendment to stop abortion funding but felt he had to go along with the abortion funding under Nelson’s “compromise” after that failed.
The Susan B. Anthony List called the vote for ObamaCare a sellout and said Casey abandoned his father’s legacy.
The ad read: In a landmark speech, the late Governor Robert Casey, Senior said “Nothing could be more foreign to the American experience than legalized abortion. It is inconsistent with our national character, with our national purpose, with all that we’ve done, and with everything we hope to be.”
But right now, Robert Casey, Junior is poised to vote in the Senate for a health care bill with federal funding for abortion. The bill will result in more abortions—abortions that Americans will be required to finance. Senator Casey, trading the lives of unborn children for a health care bill is inconsistent with our American character.
“The abortion debate is not about how we shall live, but who shall live. And more than that, it’s about who we are.”
For Pennsylvania voters in 2012, what they say about who Casey is and whether he is truly pro-life may ultimately decide his fate.