Pro-life movement and GOP politics: an unholy alliance

By Chris Korzen Self-proclaimed pro-life groups with close ties to the Republican Party are spending millions of dollars in a … Continued

By Chris Korzen

Self-proclaimed pro-life groups with close ties to the Republican Party are spending millions of dollars in a deceitful attempt to defeat pro-life members of Congress who voted for health care reform. People of faith who believe in a consistent ethic of life should be outraged and stand up for their values.

My organization, Catholics United, recently launched an unprecedented campaign to organize and inform constituents in several congressional districts where Members of Congress are being targeted by the Susan B. Anthony List, the Family Research Council and the National Right to Life Committee. These groups falsely claim that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act provides federal funding for elective abortions, even though the Catholic Health Association, a bevy of health-care policy experts, and independent analysts have repeatedly debunked this abortion-funding myth.

The religious right will point to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ opposition to health care reform as evidence that abortion funding concerns were not addressed in the final legislation. However, the USCCB’s opinion was based on a misunderstanding of the bill’s abortion funding provisions. Furthermore, last week the bishops issued a statement commending the Obama administration for upholding the ban on federal funding of abortion following false accusations – made by the National Right to Life Committee and the Family Research Council – that a high risk insurance pool in Pennsylvania contained $160 million in federal funding for abortion.

So why are these groups ignoring the facts and attacking pro-life Democrats who worked tirelessly to ensure that health care reform prohibited abortion funding? Because their campaign is really about winning back GOP control of Congress. Targeted Members of Congress – Ohio Representatives John Boccieri and Steve Driehaus, Pennsylvania Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper and Congressman Tom Perriello of Virginia – are Catholics who hold seats in districts with high percentages of pro-life voters. Making sure these voters believe their Representatives betrayed the pro-life cause is a key component of the Republicans’ election strategy.

By perpetuating the abortion-funding myth, these organizations are not only sacrificing honesty on the altar of political expedience, but also working to undermine legislation the pro-life community should embrace as an unmitigated victory. In addition to expanding health coverage to millions of Americans, the health care reform law creates programs that provide needed supports for pregnant women and new mothers. It also mandates coverage of prenatal care and bans insurers from labeling pregnancy a pre-existing condition. In addition to making needed care affordable and accessible, such policies address the root causes of abortion. Pro-life health care supporters like Rep. Dahlkemper know that embracing a whole life agenda includes health care for all, and economic and social support for those who need it most. Despite absorbing the brunt of the smear campaign, Dahlkemper is adamantly defending her vote for health care reform. People of faith, and Catholics in particular, should admire her unabashed commitment to the common-good values that lie at the heart of the Christian tradition. Dahlkemper’s allies in the faith community can now sign an open letter in support of her voting record on jobs, Wall Street reform, health care, and other common-good issues. We’ll soon be launching similar efforts elsewhere.

Americans are tired of dirty politics. What we desperately want are results. It’s time for people of faith to push back against those who misuse the language of religion for political gain, and reward leaders who work hard to promote the common good.

Chris Korzen, Executive Director, Catholics United


  • jweley

    Chris Korzen’s attack on Republicans features a cynical assertion that they are motivated only by elective politics and not by substantive concerns over provisions pertaining to abortion. We ought to be very reluctant to attribute motivation to political operatives since we are not in a position to get inside their heads and hearts to the degree necessary to support any allegations about motivation. Asserting bad faith on the part of one’s opponents is a sure way to debase the political discourse and to distract from the fundamental issues of the extent to which public funds ought to flow to those performing abortions. This is the debate that we need to have. It would be a good idea to cease and desist from the practice of avoiding debate by attacking motives.

Read More Articles

Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

An Untold Story of Bondage to Freedom: Passover 1943

How a foxhole that led to a 77-mile cave system saved the lives of 38 Ukrainian Jews during the Holocaust.

Friend or Foe? Learning from Judas About Friendship with Jesus

We call Judas a betrayer. Jesus called him “friend.”

Fundamentalist Arguments Against Fundamentalism

The all-or-nothing approach to the Bible used by skeptics and fundamentalists alike is flawed.

Mary Magdalene, the Closest Friend of Jesus

She’s been ignored, dismissed, and misunderstood. But the story of Easter makes it clear that Mary was Jesus’ most faithful friend.

The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

How to Debate Christians: Five Ways to Behave and Ten Questions to Answer

Advice for atheists taking on Christian critics.

Heaven Hits the Big Screen

How “Heaven is for Real” went from being an unsellable idea to a bestselling book and the inspiration for a Hollywood movie.

This God’s For You: Jesus and the Good News of Beer

How Jesus partied with a purpose.

Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.

Dear Evangelicals, Please Reconsider Your Fight Against Gay Rights

A journalist and longtime observer of American religious culture offers some advice to his evangelical friends.