Anti-Choice Activists to Use Planned Parenthood Vote as Campaign Issue

A Republican campaign strategy emerges from the budget showdown last week in which President Obama refused to back down on his opposition to cutting Title X funding to Planned Parenthood. Speaker Boehner reportedly extracted a commitment from Majority Leader Reid to allow a vote on the issue on the Senate floor. Anti-choice activists are now crowing that this vote on the Senate floor gives them the ammunition to go after “pro-life” Democrats, like Pennsylvania’s Bob Casey, who vote against cutting off family planning funding to Planned Parenthood.

Americans United for Life was first out of the box thanking the Republican leadership for allowing this “up or down vote,” which the group pledges to “score.” And now both Life Site News and the Daily Caller are featuring stories outlining the strategy.

In the last election cycle, the anti-choice group Susan B. Anthony List targeted Democrats who first held up health care reform by demanding the inclusion of the Stupak Amendment (restricting abortion coverage) but then voted for the final bill. The group ran campaign ads charging the bill was the “biggest expansion of abortion in decades,” a false statement that even got it embroiled in litigation, and caused a group of Cincinnati-area nuns to call on it “to stop making the false claim that Congressman Steve Driehaus (OH-01) voted to expand federal funding of abortion.” Similarly, Charmaine Yoest of AUL falsely called the final health care law “the biggest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade.”

Driehaus lost, as did about half of the House Democratic pro-life caucus, although it’s tough to say what role the SBA List’s efforts played. Nonetheless, it’s clear that anti-choice activists are aiming for a similar strategy against Senate Democrats next year. And it’s not just to get rid of “pro-lifers” they consider insufficiently ideological pure. As the American Center for Law and Justice’s Jordan Sekulow noted in his Daily Caller piece, they are hoping to do damage to the Democratic base: “Although this continues to be an uphill battle, an unsuccessful vote that puts senators on the record helps get us closer to a Congress that has the political will to defund Planned Parenthood once and for all. Until then, our government will continue to fund one of the DNC’s best grassroots outfits.”