This article first appeared online at FOX News on October 14, 2011.
Anti-Abortion Group Looks for Boost From House Vote in Case Against Ex-Rep
A prominent anti-abortion group is hoping the latest House vote on abortion funding can bolster its court case against an ex-congressman suing the organization for claims about his voting record.
The Susan B. Anthony List claims the House vote Thursday in favor of new restrictions regarding abortion coverage in the federal health care overhaul can help the group in the unusual defamation case brought by ex-Democratic Rep. Steve Driehaus of Ohio.
Driehaus, after losing his reelection race last year, sued the Susan B. Anthony List over its statements and ads claiming Driehaus, who considers himself pro-life, voted for taxpayer-funded abortion when he backed the health care overhaul.
Driehaus claimed the group was spreading falsehoods, effectively costing him his job while inflicting “economic” harm on him.
But according to the Susan B. Anthony List, the fact that 251 House lawmakers just voted for new abortion funding restrictions proves their point — that they aren’t alone in worrying that the federal health law doesn’t do enough to wall off taxpayer funds from abortion coverage.
“Given that 251 members of Congress voted in favor of the Protect Life Act, specifically in order to remove the (health care law’s) federal funding of abortion that Steve Driehaus claims is non-existent, all of these members must thereby also be guilty of defamation,” SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement. “If the House, including 15 Democrats, didn’t believe the (health law’s) result is taxpayer funding of abortion, there would be no need for this bill at all.”
The bill would require insurance providers covering abortion to establish separate plans with no abortion coverage in order to join the so-called insurance “exchanges” that would be created under the law.
The GOP proposal is unlikely to become law, with President Obama threatening to veto it and its fate in the Senate uncertain. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi excoriated Republicans for even considering the bill this week, saying the bill would let women “die on the floor” – an apparent reference to a provision that reportedly would let some hospitals decline to perform abortions.
But SBA List representatives say the House debate should at least factor into their case. They want to potentially wrap the vote into their legal arguments, should they be allowed to appeal a lower court’s ruling that the case can proceed.
“The exact argument we made verbatim is being used by members of Congress to describe this bill,” SBA List Treasurer Frank Cannon told FoxNews.com.
Driehaus’ attorney, Paul De Marco, could not be reached for comment.
De Marco told FoxNews.com in an interview in August that the SBA List can’t “hide behind the First Amendment” on this one.
He said Driehaus, in filing the suit, “decided he wasn’t going to put up with lies that went to the heart of his core beliefs.”
Obama signed an executive order last year imposing restrictions on abortion funding. The law also requires policy holders under subsidized plans who seek abortion coverage to pay for that coverage themselves.
But backers of the latest House bill argued that the executive order could be rescinded. The SBA List has argued that the law also does not explicitly bar high-risk pools from covering abortions with federal money — a claim the administration denies.