Democratic representative Steve Driehaus has filed a complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission against the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List to stop the group from putting up four billboards claiming that Driehaus voted for taxpayer-funding of abortion (see the ad here).
“The information is factually untrue and this is just another attempt by Steve Chabot’s supporters to spread false information,” Driehaus said Thursday, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. “The Susan B. Anthony List is doing everything they can to attack pro-life Democrats, not because of what we achieved in the health care bill but because they’re partisan.”
"Meanwhile, it looks like the billboards will not be put up until the matter is settled," the Enquirer reports. "The Ohio Elections Commission has set a hearing on the complaint for Thursday, Oct. 14 in Columbus."
Driehaus was a member of Bart Stupak's coalition of self-proclaimed pro-life Democrats who said they would not vote for the health care bill last March because it allowed taxpayer-funding of abortion. Stupak and others ended up voting for the bill in the end, claiming that the president's executive order would block taxpayer-funding of abortion.
Some critics have pointed out that the executive order could be revoked by a future president or overturned by a judge in court, since an executive order cannot countermand law. But the real problem with the executive order is that it didn't even purport to countermand the main abortion-funding mechanism in Obamacare. The order reaffirms the language on abortion in the Senate bill to which the Stupak Democrats objected.
As Democratic congressman Dan Lipinski, the lone member of Stupak's group to vote against Obamacare in March, said in July: "the executive order probably would not stand [in court] and even if it did stand, it only covered part of the abortion funding—the direct funding of abortion [at Community Health Centers], not the fees for [subsidized] health plans.” Perhaps Lipinski should be called as a witness at the October 14 Ohio Elections Commission hearing.
The SBA List's president Marjorie Dannenfeslser makes the same point Lipinski did in a statement today:
In an act of desperation and fear, Rep. Steve Driehaus is attempting to use a criminal statute to silence his critics. It is a fact that Steve Driehaus has voted for a bill that includes taxpayer funding of abortion. His own affidavit refers to an Executive order which purports to undo the harms of the actual bill for which he voted. The bill retains the language which Rep. Bart Stupak referred to as an ‘accounting gimmick’ that allows for federal dollars to go to insurance plans that cover abortion.
More background on this point from an interview with Bart Stupak:
Three months after his career-defining health care vote, Michigan Democratic representative Bart Stupak still bristles at questions surrounding the deal he cut with President Obama on abortion. “The executive order says public funds cannot be used for abortion,” says Stupak, and those who say otherwise are “dishonest.”
Stupak may not be dishonest, but he’s certainly mistaken about the executive order that secured his vote, and the votes of other self-proclaimed pro-life Democrats, for Obamacare. Doesn’t the executive order simply affirm the Senate bill’s main abortion-funding provision that Ben Nelson signed off on—a provision that Stupak called “unacceptable” back in December? “I didn’t like the Nelson language on December 24, and up through that time,” Stupak replies. “Then there were changes in it, in the final bill. They cleaned it up quite a bit. There were changes made.” In fact, the abortion language passed by the Senate on December 24 is identical to the language signed into law by President Obama on March 23.
“I didn’t think we were going to get into the nitty gritty,” Stupak says after I ask him about the section of the executive order that says subsidized plans may cover elective abortions so long as federal subsidies are “segregated” from private dollars—the main funding mechanism of abortion in the bill and something Stupak had long rejected as a meaningless bookkeeping scheme. “I’m happy to call back if you want to get into the nitty gritty,” he says, “but in all honesty I don’t have [the executive order] sitting here in front of me.” Stupak said that on June 15. He never called back.