In the wake of the Supreme Court’s stunning ruling on health care, activists on both sides of the abortion issue have pledged to bring the full weight of their movements into the November election battles.
“Defeat Obama, elect Mitt Romney and repeal Obamacare,” David O’Steen, executive director of the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), said in response to the high court’s 5-4 decision Thursday, which found the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act constitutional under the taxation powers of the federal government.
“We have saved the Affordable Care Act … but the gains of women for 40 years are at stake,” Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority, said Friday in Baltimore at the annual conference of the National Organization for Women.
“We cannot lose this election … We must get out the vote,” she told her cheering audience.
As intended — or feared — the abortion issue has been a volatile component of health care reform.
The law is intended to pave the way for an estimated 32 million uninsured people, including millions of low-income and poor women, to get health care. But a perennial sticking point has been the treatment of abortion and birth control.
Pro-choice groups and their allies insist that abortion and birth control be included in health care, and offered to women by all employers, including religiously affiliated institutions, such as schools and charitable organizations.
The Supreme Court’s finding that the law is constitutional is a “great, great achievement” and getting President Obama re-elected is an “absolute top priority,” Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, New York Democrat, told the NOW conference, where she received a “Woman of Impact” award for her leadership.
Other pro-choice leaders called for the troops to rally as well.
“The Affordable Care Act marks the greatest advancement for women’s health in a generation,” said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. “We need to keep President Obama in office to make sure that all of the benefits of the Affordable Care Act are implemented, not rolled back by [anti-abortion] politicians.”
But to pro-life activists, the devil is in the details of the law: “Birth control” means both contraceptives, which are anathema to many Catholics, and “morning-after” products, such as ella and Plan B, that can or do terminate pregnancies.
Also, the health care law permits taxpayer dollars to subsidize “abortion-on-demand” and even creates “an array of other mechanisms and funding pipelines by which access to and subsidies for abortion can be expanded if President Obama wins a second term,” the NRLC warned.
The health care law represents “the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade. Now if that doesn’t give us a wake-up call, I don’t know what will,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican, said Thursday at the annual NRLC convention in Arlington, in the Virginia suburbs of Washington.
Even when the reform was being crafted, Mr. Cantor said, Mr. Obama and his allies “stopped the bill along the way to make sure that every single prohibition, every single impediment to government funding was taken out so there would be unfettered funding by taxpayers of abortion.”
House Republicans have stood steadfast against this law, “and on July 11, Wednesday after July 4, we will vote again for repeal of Obamacare,” Mr. Cantor said to applause.
The Supreme Court decision “will rally the troops even more” — the 40 Days for Life campaign “will be huge this fall,” predicted Sue Thayer, a former Planned Parenthood clinic official who told her story at the NRLC conference.
Lila Rose, founder of Live Action, also took the podium to trace her journey from a home-schooled teen to leader of a group that uses undercover videography to expose activities at abortion clinics.
“We’re going to change things this fall, right?” Ms. Rose said, ending her remarks by citing Galatians 6:9, “Do not be weary of doing the good work, for in due time, you will reap your reward — we will reap the reward — if we do not give up.”