Religious right groups in Minnesota and around the country said that Tuesday’s landslide victories for Republicans were due to their efforts – and they might be right. Anti-abortion groups claim they ousted incumbents who were previously “pro-life” but voted for health care reform, which the groups inaccurately stated will fund abortions. And massive anti-gay marriage campaigns throughout Minnesota preceded losses by same-sex marriage supporters at the Legislature.
“Today, the Susan B. Anthony List announced that it successfully defeated 15 of its 20 targeted self-described ‘pro-life’ Democrats who voted for the pro-abortion health care bill as part of its “Votes Have Consequences” project,” the anti-abortion group said in a statement Wednesday. Rep. James Oberstar was one of those the group said it targeted.
“Last night, the SBA List accomplished its overall goal and delivered on our promise that votes have consequences,” the group’s president, Marjorie Dannenfelser, said. “In these races, the abortion issue was a determining factor. We flexed the muscles of the pro-life movement.”
Concerned Women for America also saw Oberstar’s defeat as a victory for the religious right. Citing Oberstar, Concerned Women for America Director of Legislation and Public Policy Shari Rendall said, “Last night’s vote was crystal clear: Americans do not want their money to pay for abortions.”
Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, after endorsing Oberstar for years, threw its support behind Republican Chip Cravaack, also citing Oberstar’s vote for health care reform.
“Yesterday was a good day for the pro-life movement – nationwide and here in Minnesota,” an update on the MCCL website read. “The one change came in the 8th District, where pro-life (and MCCL Federal PAC-endorsed) Chip Cravaack ousted Rep. Jim Oberstar in a remarkable upset. Our state will now have five (out of eight) pro-life members of Congress.”
SBA List, Concerned Women for America and MCCL all attacked Oberstar for not being “pro-life” due to his vote for health care reform. They said that vote was a vote for federally-funded abortions, but many fact-checkers say that claim in false.
According to Factcheck.org:
The law says that those receiving subsidies to buy insurance through state-based exchanges must submit a separate payment to cover abortion services (if they choose a plan that covers abortions), and insurance providers must keep federal money separate from private payments to ensure the federal money does not go toward abortion coverage. President Obama also signed an executive order reaffirming the federal rules on only funding abortion in cases of rape, incest and danger to the mother’s life.
And the Pulitzer Prize-winning Politifact also rated claims that Obamacare pays for abortion as “false.”
In Minnesota, the Minnesota Family Council took credit for the GOP gains in the State Legislature.
“MFC would like to thank the tens of thousands of social conservatives who headed [sic] our calls, emails and mailings to vote their pro-life, pro-marriage values,” said Chuck Darrell, Director of Communications. The group, which opposes LGBT rights, said it made 500,000 calls and distributed 250,000 voters’ guides to 1,200 churches.
“This dramatic change in both houses stops efforts to legalize gay marriage dead in it’s [sic] tracks. Recently, backers of gay marriage have been boasting that Minnesota is on the ‘verge’ of legalizing gay marriage. Apparently not, as the people have responded by electing pro-life, pro-marriage majorities in both the house and the senate,” said Darrell on the group’s site.
MFC also teamed up with the National Organization for Marriage on a series of radio and television ads supporting Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer. The two groups spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on the ads, though exact numbers are unknown since NOM refuses to disclose its expenditures.
And to supplement the efforts of NOM and MFC, the Catholic Church sent out hundreds of thousands of DVDs to Minnesota Catholics urging them to vote against legislators who support gay marriage.