Catholics United Announces $500,000 Campaign To Defend Health Care Reform Supporters from Religious Right Attacks

Posted July 21, 2010

Organizing and Paid Media Effort will Focus on Congressional Districts in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Virginia

The social justice group Catholics United today announced that it is mounting an innovative, multifaceted campaign to defend the records of several Members of Congress who voted for final passage of health care reform. The Members are now facing a coordinated misinformation campaign from a host of self-proclaimed pro-life groups intended to perpetuate the misconception that the health care reform bill passed earlier this year allowed for federal funding of elective abortion. Catholics United's unprecedented effort, which they are raising $500,000 to support, will educate constituents of John Boccieri (OH-16), Kathy Dahlkemper (PA-03), Steve Driehaus (OH-01), and Tom Perriello (VA-05) about health care reform and a number of other issues. Activities will expand to other Congressional districts throughout the summer and fall.

Catholics United's “Set the Record Straight” campaign will activate thousands of Catholics and other people of faith who reject the abortion funding myth and support recent congressional efforts to expand health care access, create jobs, reduce dependence on foreign oil, protect consumers, and crack down on Wall Street abuses. Paid organizers and volunteers will work in each district to monitor the religious right's activities, educate faith leaders, and provide the media with local voices to speak on behalf of social justice issues. Catholics United will augment local organizing efforts with television, radio, and internet advertisements, phone calls, and direct mail.

“Catholics and other people of faith are frustrated by the dishonesty of many political operatives who oppose reform of our nation's outdated economic and social policies,” said Chris Korzen, executive director of Catholics United. “Instead of an open and honest dialogue about how best to meet the challenges of the 21st century, these groups are engaging in scare tactics and misusing the language of faith to score cheap political points and lead voters astray.”

The Catholics United effort comes in direct response to advertising campaigns currently underway by Republican-affiliated such as the Susan B. Anthony List, Family Research Council, National Right to Life Committee, and Republican National Campaign Committee. These groups’ ads ignore the findings of health care policy experts and independent news analyses which show that abortion funding is prohibited by both the legislation and a subsequent presidential executive order.

In one recent high-profile example, the National Right to Life Committee and Susan B. Anthony List claimed that the federal government was funding elective abortions through high-risk pools in Pennsylvania. The allegations were widely discredited by media fact-checks.

“We are sick and tired of partisan front groups using religion for political gain.” said Catholics United member Beverly Mirmelstein, a constituent of Virginia Congressman Tom Perriello and parishioner of the Church of the Incarnation in Charlottesville. "As a person of faith I support health care reform because it expands coverage for uninsured Americans while providing pregnant women and children with the support they need.”

Catholics United's “Set the Record Straight” campaign is an expansion of its earlier efforts to inform people of faith about the true nature of health care reform. In March it ran television ads in eight Congressional districts challenging the false claim that health care reform included abortion funding. After the vote, the organization ran thank-you ads in the districts of four Members of Congress who were under pressure from the religious right for voting yes.