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As Midterm Campaigning Heats Up, Anti-Abortion Advocates Target Pro-Life Democrats


When you see and hear, as midterm campaigning heats up, anti-abortion advocates target pro-life democrats, that’s one sign the usual midterm politicking is here.

When former Representative Marilyn Musgrave (Colorado) got handily booted out of office by Democratic challenger Betsy Markey in the 2008 elections, she vowed to have her revenge.

Musgrave donated $50,000 from her defunct campaign fund to the “Young Leaders” training program, a tax-exempt initiative of the Susan B. Anthony List, the anti-abortion group that happened also to be her new employer.

Pro-life Democrats Struggle To Find Acceptance On Either Side Of The Aisle | NBC News Now

Musgrave Fights Back

COPYRIGHT_WI: Published on https://washingtonindependent.com/as-midterm-campaigning-heats-up-anti-abortion-advocates-target-pro-life-democrats/ by Susan Murillo on 2023-02-02T05:12:49.502Z

Colorado Rep. Musgrave started building a new war chest, this time for the SBA List’s “Votes Have Consequences” initiative to target legislators on issues relating to abortion.

In a May 2009 fundraising letter, she pledged that the new effort would:

Spread the truth about [Democrats’] destructive agendas, drag down their approval ratings, force them to publicly defend socialism, authoritarian gun-grabbing, gay marriage, infanticide and everything else they vote for in Washington, and ultimately, on November 2, 2010 … take their jobs away from them.”

- Representative Marilyn Musgrave (Colorado)

Now, during the campaign season for the 2010 midterm elections, Musgrave is taking the fight to the streets.

Yesterday, the SBA List launched a bus tour through 23 cities in the battleground states of Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania.

Traveling on the “Votes Have Consequences Express,” Musgrave and others are publicizing vulnerable Democrats’ support of the comprehensive health care reform bill.

They are arguing that the new law will funnel taxpayers’ money into coverage for abortions, even though legal scholars, health care analysts and even some Republican politicians say the law does no such thing.

Female members of abortion abortion-rights movements protest on the streets with their placards
Female members of abortion abortion-rights movements protest on the streets with their placards

Anti-Abortion Advocates Target Pro-Life Democrats

Banking on the ability of the abortion issue to rile social conservatives in the Rust Belt, anti-abortion activists are still pillorying pro-life Dems for allegedly authorizing federal funding for abortion coverage.

Rep. Musgrave said:

When you look at these districts, more than three-quarters of the voters say they oppose tax payer-funded abortion.

- Representative Marilyn Musgrave (Colorado)

She added:

We’re going to make sure that even more pro-life voters know about the duplicity and betrayal on the part of their members of Congress.

- Representative Marilyn Musgrave (Colorado)

The roots of the anti-abortion movement’s misgivings with health care reform go back to last fall.

In the winter, a bloc of pro-life Democrats led by outgoing Rep. Bartholomew Thomas “Bart” Stupak (Michigan) threatened not to vote for the bill.

They will only vote if they receive assurances that no taxpayer dollars will fund abortions, except in circumstances delineated by the Hyde Amendment - to save the life of the mother, or in the case of rape or incest.

During the Stupak bloc’s negotiations with Democratic leadership, groups like the SBA List pressured the lawmakers to vote no.

Paula Westwood, the executive director of Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati, which collaborates with the SBA List, explained:

In January, the SBA List did a tour called ‘Women Speak Out: Abortion is NOT Health Care.’ The whole intent was to encourage [pro-life Dems] to stand firm and stay the course and not vote for the bill as it was written.

- Paula Westwood

Support For Pro-Life Democrats

The pro-life Dems did end up receiving further assurances.

One was in the form of a Senate amendment by Senator Earl Benjamin “Ben” Nelson (Nebraska) that prohibits insurance companies from using new federal subsidies to cover the cost of abortion coverage.

The other one was as an executive order from President Barack Obama reiterating that the existing Hyde Amendment limits would still apply.

Furor over the bill’s passage and confusion surrounding its complexity, however, let the issue become major fundraising grist for anti-abortion advocates.

Governor Tim Pawlenty (Minnesota) told a crowd of supporters at a fundraiser in Washington soon after the health care reform bill’s passage:

This administration and this Congress is being more hostile and challenging the pro-life position and values than any time since Roe vs. Wade.

- Governor Timothy James “Tim” Pawlenty (Minnesota)

At the event, donors gave up to $100,000 to the SBA List.

A female pro-life democrat with a pin on her backpack’s strap that says ‘I (insert heart) pro-life boys’
A female pro-life democrat with a pin on her backpack’s strap that says ‘I (insert heart) pro-life boys’

Criticisms From Anti-Abortion Advocates

But how are anti-abortion advocates arguing health care reform allows taxpayer dollars to go to the procedure, despite Pres. Obama’s executive order and Sen. Nelson’s amendment?

Groups like SBA List are taking pains to point out that the president’s order - meant to clarify any ambiguity in the new law and guide the agencies as they draw up regulations pertaining to it - could theoretically be rescinded, nor does it carry the weight of law.

Westwood said:

Even pro-life advocates recognized that it was a symbolic gesture.

- Paula Westwood

In August 2010, she told a crowd in Cincinnati:

This executive order idea is further proof that Democratic leadership knows federally funded abortion is in the bill, though they have denied it all along.

- Paula Westwood

As for Sen. Nelson’s amendment, anti-abortion advocates describe the language as an “accounting gimmick” and not a stringent-enough ban.

The provision prohibits insurers from using federal subsidies to cover the actuarial costs of abortions. If women want to purchase coverage for abortions, they need to pay for it themselves into a separate account.

Groups like SBA List say this is an “accounting gimmick” - though the gimmick is designed precisely so that the federal funds are siloed from abortion coverage.

In reference to the Nelson amendment, Westwood said:

That’s kind of a back door way to say you can have this option to do it.

- Paula Westwood

She continued:

I think that that’s a lot of semantics. It’s still part of the plan that people can have abortions - you just purchase two [plans]. We’re talking about people who cannot afford insurance so obviously [the government’s] going to make it possible to get it in some way.

- Paula Westwood

Such claims could not be further from the truth, according to Timothy Jost, a health law expert and Washington and Lee University law professor.

Jost noted:

I don’t think it’s confusion [that’s driving them]. I think that the groups that are doing this have a political agenda and it’s a partisan political agenda and they’re not particularly interested in the truth. What they want to do is to elect Republicans.

- Timothy S. Jost, J.D.

Musgrave and the SBA List, however, have never deviated from their insistence that the new health care measure will find ways to direct untold amounts of federal assistance to abortion coverage, even when Republicans have indicated their satisfaction on the issue and the new regulations around the law.

Jessica Straus, a spokesperson for Sen. Michael Bradley “Mike” Enzi (Wyoming), told Kaiser Health News about the latest regulations issued by the Department of Health and Human Services:

It appears the rule includes a strong prohibition on federal coverage of abortion.

- Jessica Straus

John Hart, a spokesperson for Sen. Thomas Allen Tom Coburn (Oklahoma) agreed:

Dr. Coburn is pleased [Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen] Sebelius is taking to heart our concerns that the health care law will fund abortion.

- John Hart

An anti-abortion rally near the Capitol in Washington D.C., with a placard that says ‘Let Their Hearts Beat’
An anti-abortion rally near the Capitol in Washington D.C., with a placard that says ‘Let Their Hearts Beat’

Final Thoughts

The SBA List nonetheless continues to attack politicians for indicating they are satisfied the bill does not fund abortions.

For instance, the Votes Have Consequences Express bus tour is planning on beating up on Rep. Marcia Carolyn “Marcy” Kaptur (Ohio), a self-avowed pro-life Democrat.

Kaptur’s Republican challenger, Rich Iott, is thrilled the SBA List is stopping over in Ohio’s ninth district to criticize the incumbent.

Matt Parker, Iott’s spokesperson, said:

We welcome it and all the attention that’s going to be brought upon Marcy Kaptur on the life voting issue and her less-than-perfect record on it.

- Matt Parker

As for Musgrave, she appears happy to be leading the charge to try to kick out moderate Democrats like the one that unseated her just two short years before.

She said cheerily:

Sadly, these members did not respond to their constituents and their overwhelming opposition to taxpayer-funded abortions. It will have consequences - very big consequences.

- Representative Marilyn Musgrave (Colorado)

The bus, which Musgrave describes as a “rolling billboard,” is “going to attract a lot of attention. Just wait until you see it. It’s going to be very easy, let’s just say, to see who chose to support the largest expansion of abortion since Roe vs. Wade.”

As midterm campaigning heats up, anti-abortion advocates target pro-life democrats, with more arguments from these two groups to be expected in the coming days.

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About The Authors

Susan Murillo

Susan Murillo - Susan has been interested in real estate since she was a child in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Susan had always wanted to pursue a direction that would encourage her to support others, and she discovered her true calling in real estate, where she could serve her clients and direct them through one of their most significant investments. Shannon has been involved in the selling and distribution of one billion dollars in real estate in Western Canada over the last ten years.

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