The vitriolic abortion debate sparked by President Barack Obama’s health reform plan is playing out again on the campaign trail.
The Susan B. Anthony List, a group that supports female candidates who oppose abortion rights, has spent most of August on a bus tour of swing districts, protesting anti-abortion Democrats who voted for the bill — and the tour has drawn noisy counterprotests from Catholic groups and pro-abortion-rights organizations. SBA stopped in Pennsylvania to take aim at Rep. Kathleen Dahlkemper (D-Pa.), an anti-abortion Democrat who voted for health reform.
Catholics United, a group that aired ads thanking anti-abortion Democrats for voting “yes” on health reform, protested Monday at SBA List stops in Pennsylvania cities including Erie, Meadville, Grove City and Butler.“They have one goal, and that is to perpetrate the lie that the executive order really did prohibit government funding of abortion,” said former Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, now a spokeswoman for SBA List. “We are exposing the hypocrisy of these so-called pro-life Democrats. Catholics United was trying to give them cover, and it doesn’t work.”
The sweeping health reform plan passed the House in March after successful last-minute negotiations with a group of anti-abortion Democrats led by Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan. Stupak had lent his name to an amendment that would have explicitly prohibited abortion funding but ultimately agreed that an executive order from Obama would accomplish the same goal.
“The Susan B. Anthony List is little more than a partisan front group, which uses issues like abortion to confuse voters and to score cheap political points,” said Dave Robinson, executive director of the Erie-based Pax Christi USA, which was involved in the protests. “The health care reform bill that Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper voted for is a huge victory for the pro-life cause.”
The change sparked an angry backlash that led Stupak to announce his retirement. SBA List and other anti-abortion groups promised retribution against the other Democrats who also supported the executive order, which in addition to Dahlkemper included Reps. Steve Driehaus (Ohio), Marcy Kaptur (Ohio), Brad Ellsworth (Ind.), Baron Hill (Ind.) and Joe Donnelly (Ind.).
American Catholic groups have long supported universal health care coverage, but the Democratic-backed bill that passed this year split church groups because of its language on abortion. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops opposed the law because of concerns that it would allow some taxpayer-funded coverage of abortion within federal insurance exchanges. Other groups, including Catholics United and the Catholic Health Association, supported the bill and said it included adequate restrictions on abortion financing.
Musgrave said the Catholics United protesters yelled and waved signs that read “Lie.” She said previous stops on the tour — including ones in Indiana and Ohio — drew protesters from the National Organization for Women.
Catholics United has also aired TV ads supporting anti-abortion Democrats who backed health reform. They have pledged to spend $500,000 defending Dahlkemper and Driehaus as well as Virginia Rep. Thomas Perriello and Ohio Rep. John Boccieri.
A call to the Washington office of Catholics United was not immediately returned. A call to the NOW offices was also not immediately returned.
Catholics United is simply another item on a long list of organizations that use the Catholic name to promote liberal social agendas while dissenting from Church teaching. This group apparently is dedicated to telling Catholics that it's A-OK to vote for Obama and his anti-life policies, including his abomination of a health care bill, which DOES in fact provide funding for abortions.
If they think they can stop the tide of pro-life activism, they're sadly mistaken. More and more Americans are realizing the truth; the abortion is the deliberate murder of an innocent child, and is not worthy of anyone's support. The fight for life will continue, with young people taking it up, while the aging members of these "Catholic" groups will fade into obscurity. All I can say is, God bless you at the Susan B. Anthony list and all others who fight for the lives of the innocent unborn.