A Further Perspective

Obama’s Dupes: The President’s Pro-Life Catholic Suckers

A wake-up call for Kathy Dahlkemper and Democrats for Life.

By 2.14.12

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On March 24, 2010, President Obama, flagged by 13 beaming pro-life Democratic members of Congress, led by Michigan's Bart Stupak, signed an executive order that he promised would prevent abortion funding in his "healthcare reform" bill. These were the infamous "Bart Stupak Democrats" -- many of them Roman Catholics -- who had placed their faith not in their bishops or pro-lifers who urged them not to vote for "Obama-care," but in Barack Obama.

It was an executive order that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, National Right to Life, Americans United for Life, LifeNews.com, Priests for Life, Susan B. Anthony List, and every reputable pro-life organization or leader said would be ineffective in preventing abortion funding under "Obama-care." These pro-life Democrats, however, trusted not these lifetime fighters for life but a man who as U.S. senator had co-sponsored the Freedom of Choice Act, the most radical piece of pro-abortion legislation in the history of the republic; who, his first week as president, signed an executive order reversing the Mexico City policy, thus publicly funding Planned Parenthood International; who signed an executive order providing taxpayer funding of the deliberate dissection and destruction of human embryos; and who has done far more still. Before all of that, this guarantor of healthcare for every American repeatedly refused (as a state senator in Illinois) to provide mandatory healthcare for babies that somehow survived abortion procedures. In a 2007 speech to Planned Parenthood, Barack Obama hailed America's largest abortion provider as a "safety net."

This, of course, is just a short list of Obama's abortion abominations. An ongoing list compiled by LifeNews.com (click here) is nothing short of astonishing.

It was upon this man, Barack Obama, that pro-life Democrats pinned their hopes. It was quite a display, a study in human nature and the depths of self-delusion.

Of these Democrats, most were defeated in their bid for re-election in November 2010. Here at The American Spectator and elsewhere, I focused on the case of Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper, a Pennsylvania Democrat who happened to be my congresswoman, and a genuinely pro-life Catholic Democrat. Dahlkemper's home base was Erie, Pennsylvania, a traditionally blue-collar, Catholic area. She was successfully challenged by Mike Kelly, an auto dealer from Butler, Pennsylvania, and a former Notre Dame football player -- and a faithful Roman Catholic.

In his successful attempt to unseat Dahlkemper, Kelly was not shy about highlighting Dahlkemper's pro-life gullibility. Neither was the Susan B. Anthony List, which targeted her among the unwitting pro-life betrayers that needed to be defeated in November 2010. Dahlkemper was shocked and outraged at the audacity of the Susan B. Anthony List. The group made her district one of its summer tour-bus stops. It sponsored giant billboards reminding voters of Dahlkemper's Obama-care vote.

The congresswoman was also targeted by Americans United for Life (AUL). This, too, she deemed unfair. An October 8 article in the Sharon Herald, one of the larger newspapers in her district, reported that attorneys for the Dahlkemper campaign were demanding that Erie radio stations pull AUL ads that (accurately) asserted that the congresswoman's vote for Obamacare would result in "the largest expansion of taxpayer-funded abortions ever." The Dahlkemper campaign blasted the ads as "slanderous" and "inaccurate."

"To me, it's morally reprehensible that they're using this to win an election," said an incredulous Dahlkemper. "I assumed after I worked so hard that the pro-life camp would be with me."

If that statement wasn't amazing enough, Dahlkemper added this stunner: "I think we'll look back on this bill and we'll see a reduction in abortions in this country. It's the most pro-life piece of legislation ever passed by Congress in this country."

Yes, she was talking about Obamacare. You can't make this up.

One wonders what Dahlkemper is thinking right now, as the radically pro-abortion president she so admired and trusted mandates that Dahlkemper and her fellow Catholics and their Church provide abortion drugs, contraception, sterilization, and no doubt more to come. That mandate comes directly from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a., "Obamacare") that Dahlkemper voted for.

Well, Dahlkemper recently hinted at an answer, courtesy of a November press release from Democrats for Life, devoted supporters of Dahlkemper. "I would have never voted for the final version of the bill if I expected the Obama administration to force Catholic hospitals and Catholic colleges and universities to pay for contraception," said Dahlkemper. "We worked hard to prevent abortion funding in health care and to include clear conscience protections for those with moral objections to abortion and contraceptive devices that cause abortion. I trust that the president will honor the commitment he made to those of us who supported final passage."

We elect members of Congress for their judgment. We also vote them out for their failed judgment. It looks like the voters in my district know how to make a correction.

It isn't only Kathy Dahlkemper and other "Stupak Democrats" who are eating crow. In that same press release was this assessment from the executive director of Democrats for Life, an organization of rapidly dwindling clients: "The [Obama] administration is already unfairly under attack by Catholic conservatives who are using the proposed final rule to spread anti-Obama sentiment to lay Catholics," said Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life. "The administration has no intention of forcing Catholic institutions to provide insurance coverage for services that are directly in opposition to their moral beliefs. It does not make any sense from a public policy perspective and it certainly is not smart politically to alienate Catholic voters."

Kristen Day said that in November. Ms. Day has a good heart, a pro-life heart -- just like Kathy Dahlkemper -- but she, too, has been badly deceived by America's chief Democrat.

Again, why would that surprise anyone?

All of this makes perfect sense. Barack Obama is, above all, first and foremost, a radical, pro-abortion ideologue. He could care less about the "public policy perspective" and alienating Catholic voters. This is where Obama's heart is: from public funding of Planned Parenthood to embryo destruction to abortion-inducing pharmaceuticals.

As I write, the latest statement from Kristen Day and Democrats for Life is that they are "deeply disappointed" in the actions of President Obama. They urge Obama to "reconsider."

Sure, good luck.

It's a shame, a crying shame, that it takes this much for pro-life Democrats to learn. Ronald Reagan famously said that he didn't leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left him. Maybe it's time that Democrats for Life leave the Democratic Party -- for life.

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About the Author

Paul Kengor is professor of political science and executive director of The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. His latest book is 11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative.