Throughout the health care debate, abortion remained an issue that could have sunk the still unpopular health care bill. A number of self-proclaimed pro-life Democrats, led by Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan, promised they would not vote for any health care bill that had the American tax-payer funding abortions. However, as time went by, Mr. Stupak’s group shrank from being a dozen to a half dozen.
Once Mr. Stupak told reporters he would sign on to the health care bill, because he believed the White House promise that an executive order would keep taxpayer funding away from abortions, the final small handful of his group folded along with him and signed on to the health care legislation. Mr. Stupak soon afterward announced he would not run for re-electon in 2010.
“The executive order did not even attempt to address the basic funding mechanism in the Senate that these Democrats said was unacceptable, says Marjorie Dannenfelser, President of the pro-life organization Susan B. Anthony List.
Following the passage of the health care bill, the SBA List made it a point to make sure that pro-life voters, in districts held by Stupak and his group, would know that their congressmen did not represent them properly on the abortion issue. The organization put together a bus tour targeting 19 congressional districts to accomplish this. The tour just finished up last Monday.
“The purpose of the tour was to go back to go to some of the targeted districts that we know we have a good shot at winning and go places where the incumbent was very critical in a leadership role and took a nosedive on the leadership,” Ms. Dannenfelser explained. “The top of the list was Stupak and then Mullholland. We pressured Stupak and did whole lot of radio ads criticizing him and his vote, and he decided not to run again.”
Known for endorsing pro-life candidates and supporting pro-life incumbents for office, SBA defended pro-life politicians and candidates following an attack by the pro-choice organization Emily’s List. Former Alaska Governor Republican Sarah Palin was the primary target of Emily’s list campaign. SBA list sees this as an act of desperation.
“It’s an enormous strategic error on their part. This is the first time I have ever seen them go so strongly after other women candidates,” said Ms. Dannenfelser. “They feel their base is falling out from under them. The fundraising and grassroots capability they once had is no longer there.”
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