Double Trouble Brewing for Anti-Abortion Democrats?

Both sides are gearing up to take anti-abortion Democrats head-on in the upcoming elections; chief among them is Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., who led the anti-abortion Democratic group and was key in inking a deal with the Democratic leadership that led the group to vote for the health care bill in exchange for the executive order.

In retaliation, the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List stripped Stupak of their "Defender of Life" award, and is vowing to drive out all House members who supported the bill.

Stupak, like many of his counterparts, is from a Republican-leaning district that George W. Bush won both in 2000 and 2004, even though Bush lost Michigan. Obama barely carried this district, winning by 2 percent, in part because Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., fully pulled out of competition in Michigan more than a month before Election Day.

Such statistics could spell trouble for lawmakers like Stupak, especially with the funds that are being raised to oust them.

The conservative Family Research Council is planning to spend at least $2 million mostly on Republicans who are running against politicians who voted for the health care bill. The National Republican Congressional Committee is specifically targeting anti-abortion Democrats in vulnerable districts who voted for the health care bill.

Health Care Law Incites Abortion Activists

Some politicos say the issue of abortion is likely to lose steam by the time the elections come around, but anti-abortion groups are vowing to keep the issue in the forefront.

"People will remember this vote," said Tom McClusky, vice president for government affairs for the Family Research Council. "People are more invigorated than ever. I don't see that passion going away."

The Family Research Council, McClusky said, has already started endorsing and funding candidates.

Yoest also believes the momentum is unlikely to die down.

"I think this is going to have very far reaching ramifications," she said. The anti-abortion Democrats who voted for the health care bill "will absolutely have real difficulties defending themselves in front of voters."

It's not just the anti-abortion groups these lawmakers will have to worry about. Some abortion rights groups, furious that the Hyde amendment -- the current abortion law -- was not repealed, are also vowing a tough fight.

"We believe very strongly that Mr. Stupak and Mr. [Joseph] Pitts don't belong in Congress and we are determined to get them out," O'Neill said. Pitts, R-Pa., is a leading anti-abortion member of the House. "We would not be attacking them if we didn't have strong feminist candidates," O'Neill added.

The lesson they've learned from this health care debate, feminist groups say, is that they need more supporters in positions of power.

"We need many more feminist women. We're only at 17 percent in Congress, that's not critical mass," O'Neill said.

NOW and its partner organizations are trying to launch a grassroots effort to raise money and support for candidates, such as Connie Saltonstall, who is challenging Stupak in the Democratic primary in Michigan in August.

It could be a tough election year for some of these anti-abortion Democrats who sided with their party's leadership at the last minute.

But it may be too soon to tell, and some experts say the abortion issue could very well phase out in time, as many issues do in Washington.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...