Catholics United Stands Up To Susan B. Anthony List, As Anti-Choice NRLC Defends Lies

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Catholics United Stands Up To Susan B. Anthony List, As Anti-Choice NRLC Defends Lies

Amie Newman

The National Right to Life Committee "crashed" a Catholics United press call as groups await a U.S. District Court ruling on the false statements of the Susan B. Anthony List. 

According to the Washington Independent, the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) is angry.

As a ruling is set to be handed down, by a U.S. District Court, on a lawsuit brought by the anti-choice Susan B. Anthony List (SBA), regarding whether or not the Ohio law barring false claims in election advertising is constitutional, pro-and anti-choice groups are getting prepared.

The non-partisan, social justice group Catholics United which opposes SBA List’s efforts held a press call yesterday to discuss the lawsuit and SBA List’s recent embroilment with the Ohio Elections Commission over what the commission ruled was false advertising.  NRLC’s Legislative Director Douglas Johnson “crashed” the call and, according to Washington Independent, angrily interrupted the discussion claiming that he did not think SBA List’s advertising was untrue and that, in fact, he said as much in a sworn statement.

SBA List is targeting certain anti-choice candidates who supported health care reform, claiming they voted for “taxpayer funded abortion” by doing so. In Ohio, they paid for a billboard targeting Rep. Steve Driehaus stating, “Shame on Steve Driehaus! Driehaus voted FOR Taxpayer Funded Abortion!” Driehaus complained to the OEC, which ruled that the claim was in fact false and ordered the group to take the billboard down.This ruling is what sparred SBA List to bring a lawsuit, seeking to overturn the state’s “false statement” in political advertising law.

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In fact SBA List has been targeting both anti-and pro-choice candidates around the country using print mailers, and radio and television ads to relay the same message about health care reform’s inclusion of what they say is a measure to allow “taxpayer funded abortion.”

In response to the Ohio ruling and the subsequent lawsuit, the national group, Catholics United, joined 36 Cincinnati-area faith leaders, including 11 nuns, in an open call to SBA List. The group released a letter (PDF) which implores the SBA List to “Stop the lies” and “Stop the attack ads”,

As people of faith who believe in upholding the dignity of life, we deplore the misleading and partisan attacks on Rep. Steve Driehaus from the Susan B. Anthony List, a national group responsible for a series of inflammatory and misleading billboards going up in Cincinnati this month.

These billboards, part of an ongoing campaign by the Susan B. Anthony List, not only misrepresent Congressman Driehaus’ efforts to protect life and uphold the common good, they contradict what is actually in the Affordable Health Care and Patient Protection Act of 2010. The bill maintains current restrictions prohibiting taxpayer funds for abortions and provides additional health care supports for pregnant women. Rep. Driehaus and others also fought for and won a presidential executive order that reaffirms these same restrictions.

On the press call, Chris Korzen, the executive director of Catholics United, said of SBA List’s decision to bring a lawsuit that “The group effectively wants the right to spread false information and lie in order to influence campaigns.”

Johnson’s angry reply? “Do you believe that I was lying when I signed the NRLC’s sworn affidavit to the Ohio Elections Commission?”

Ultimately, the decision over whether or not SBA List’s false claim should be allowed to stand will be handed down by a court. Interestingly, the ACLU submitted an amicus brief in support of SBA List’s lawsuit claiming this is a free speech issue and that the Ohio law is “vague and overbroad.”

However, one thing is clear. The claim that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act includes an allowance for taxpayer funded abortion is compeletely false. Though it is being touted by anti-choice organizations from SBA List to Americans United for Life to the Family Research Council, there is no basis in truth to the claim. Health care reform has not only not loosened restrictions on federal funding of abortion – which is barred under the Hyde Amendment –  it’s strengthened those restrictions. Between an executive order affirming the Hyde Amendment and going even further to specifically state that “the use of tax credits and cost-sharing reduction payments to pay for abortion services” is prohibited (except in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the woman is threatened); and a new restriction on prohibiting abortion coverage in the high-risk pools set up to temporarily cover certain populations of Americans, taxpayer funding restrictions are tighter now.