Pro-life Democrats lose big with healthcare reform vote

Seventeen of the 22 Democrats targeted by two prominent anti-abortion-rights groups will not return to Congress next year, doomed in part by their support for a healthcare reform bill that many Americans worried would open the way to taxpayer-funded abortion.

The Susan B. Anthony List spent $3.1 million on its "Votes Have Consequences" campaign targeting 19 self-described "pro-life" Democrats in vulnerable districts. Only five — Reps. Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Marcy Kaptur (Ohio), Sanford Bishop (Ga.), Nick Rahall (W.Va.) and Dennis Cardoza (Calif.) — survived.

Conversely, the SBA List supported Illinois Democrat Daniel Lipinski's reelection campaign with an $8,500 donation. Lipinski, who voted for the bill in November but against the final version because of his concerns about abortion, easily won reelection 69.9 percent to 24.4 percent.

Americans United for Life's action fund, meanwhile, spent $600,000 on its "Life Counts" campaign to defeat 12 Democrats, all but three of whom were also targeted by the SBA List. Donnelly was the only one of the 12 to win Tuesday night.

"During the debate over the health care bill, we urged Members of Congress to reject taxpayer-funded abortion," Charmaine Yoest, president and CEO of Americans United for Life Action, said in a statement Wednesday. "Yesterday, eleven politicians learned that Life Counts, and voters elected a new Congress committed to defending Life."

Two of the SBA's targets never even made it to Tuesday's election: Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) retired after his vote provoked an avalanche of criticism from anti-abortion-rights groups. Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.) was defeated in the Democratic primary by the more conservative Mike Oliverio.

And Rep. Brad Ellsworth was badly beaten, 40 percent to 54.7 percent, in his race to replace retiring Sen. Evan Bayh in Indiana.

The House candidates defeated Tuesday are:

• Rep. Steve Driehaus (Ohio);

• Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper (Pa.);

• Rep. Baron Hill (Ind.);

• Rep. Paul Kanjorski (Pa.);

• Rep. John Salazar (Col.);

• Rep. Jim Oberstar (Minn.);

• Rep. Bob Etheridge (N.C.);

• Rep. John Boccieri (Ohio);

• Rep. Chris Carney (Pa.);

• Rep. John Spratt (S.C.);

• Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (Texas):

• Rep. Tom Perriello (Va.); and

• Rep. Alan Grayson (Fla.)

Also, Americans United targeted Joyce Elliott, the Democrat running to replace retiring Rep. Vic Snyder in Arkansas, who was crushed 38.2 percent to 57.9 percent.

SBA's ads against Driehaus garnered national attention when the lawmaker complained about them to the Ohio Elections Commission. The commission is expected to rule after the elections on whether the ads' message claiming that Driehaus "voted for taxpayer-funded abortion" violates the state's restrictions on "false statements."