Pro-Life Democrats Hailed as 'Heroes' for Health Care Vote

A pro-life Democratic group and a Catholic organization announced this week separate campaigns to defend pro-life Democratic lawmakers who voted for the landmark federal health care overhaul against a partisan "misinformation" campaign., launched by Democrats for Life of America, seeks to prove how 16 Democratic Members of Congress remain consistent with their pro-life principles despite voting for the new health care law.

The new website features fact checks that challenge assertions made by pro-life critics of the law as well as detailed information about the law's pro-life policies, and the life-protecting records of the "Whole Life Heroes."

"Pro-life Democrats provided the final votes needed to pass health care reform. These Democrats stood up for pro-life principles during the healthcare debate and delivered needed reforms that protect life at all stages," commented Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life of America, in a statement. "Now, we are standing up for these Whole Life Heroes as they come under false, politically motivated attacks for defending their values."

Similarly, the social justice group Catholics United announced this week a $500,000 campaign to defend the records of some of the Democratic members of Congress who voted to pass the health care law.

The "Set the Record Straight" campaign aims to educate constituents of four Members of Congress – John Boccieri (D-Ohio), Kathy Dahlkemper (D-Pa.), Steve Driehaus (D-Ohio), and Tom Perriello (D- Va.) – about the abortion funding "myth" surrounding health reform. The campaign will also address congressional efforts to reform Wall Street, create jobs, reduce dependence on foreign oil, among other issues.

"Catholics and other people of faith are frustrated by the dishonesty of many political operatives who oppose reform of our nation's outdated economic and social policies," said Chris Korzen, executive director of Catholics United. "Instead of an open and honest dialogue about how best to meet the challenges of the 21st century, these groups are engaging in scare tactics and misusing the language of faith to score cheap political points and lead voters astray."

The campaigns to defend pro-life Democratic lawmakers were announced about a week after the National Right to Life reported that Pennsylvania's new "high-risk" insurance program will be the first in the nation to receive federal funding for elective abortion under the new health care law.

The news sparked an outcry from pro-life leaders across the nation, many who say the Pennsylvania insurance program proves they were right that tax dollars would pay for abortion. And the uproar prompted the Health and Human Services Department to quickly reassure that the program will not cover abortions except in the cases of rape, incest or if the mother's life is in danger.

In response to the HHS statement, abortion rights groups said the Obama administration went too far with restricting access to the procedure.

"At a time when the country is on the cusp of implementing nationwide health-insurance coverage, it is unacceptable to treat abortion care differently in the new high-risk pools," said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, in a statement. "This policy means that women who are part of these pools because they have significant health problems, such as diabetes or cancer, will not be able to access abortion care, even if their health is at further risk."

While the Obama administration has maintained that there is no federal funding of abortion under the health care law, pro-life groups continue to insist that there is. They blame pro-life Democratic Members of Congress for succumbing to pressure at the last minute and compromising their values. Pro-life Democratic lawmakers had agreed to support the final health care bill in exchange for an executive order that states no federal funds will go to elective abortions.

The "Whole Life Heroes" and "Set the Record Straight" campaigns will seek to counter the idea that the pro-life Democratic Members of Congress betrayed the pro-life community by voting for the health care bill.

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