A Tale of Two Bad Laws

By Will, George F. | Newsweek, February 21, 2011 | Go to article overview

A Tale of Two Bad Laws


Will, George F., Newsweek


Byline: George F. Will

'Obamacare' collides with Ohio's regulation of the truth.

No person, during the course of any campaign--shall--make a false statement concerning the voting record of a candidate or public official. --An Ohio law

the subject of abortion roiled Washington last week, as it has frequently done during the 38 years since the Supreme Court, by nationalizing the issue, made it the cause of a deep fissure in American politics. Last week's interest in abortion could have been, but was not, because of the simultaneously heartening and (one hopes) unsettling report about stunning success in treating severe forms of spina bifida in utero. If babies can be surgery patients 19 weeks after conception, are they not babies rather than mere "fetal material" whose "termination" is a matter of moral indifference?

And last week's interest in abortion could have been, but was not, because of recent stomach-turning (one hopes) reports about the routine butchery of babies at a Philadelphia abortion mill. There, according to the district attorney's office, late-term abortions often produced living, viable babies who were then killed by "snipping"--using scissors to cut their spinal cords.

Instead, last week's congressional interest in abortion was part of the aftershocks from last year's enactment of the health-care law, an event that is having odd reverberations in Ohio's First Congressional District, which includes Cincinnati. There, last November, Steve Driehaus, a freshman Democrat, lost his bid for a second term by 11,098 out of 201,518 votes cast.

Driehaus, a Catholic opposed to abortion rights, believes that he might have lost because of what he sincerely believes were false statements in broadcasts by the Susan B. Anthony List. The statements were that in voting for the health-care legislation he voted "for taxpayer funding of abortion." Driehaus insists that "many organizations" supported the legislation "because" he and others secured language in it, and in an executive order issued by the president, that precludes federal funding for abortions.

SBA List, a pro-life political-action committee named in honor of the suffragette who called abortion "child murder," believes with equal sincerity that its statements about Driehaus's voting record were accurate. …

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