Over the course of numerous meetings, the “Stupak Coalition,” Mollohan included, made it clear that they would not bend. To shore them up and to show them how much we appreciated their stalwart stance, we ran radio spots prior to the final votes extolling these Democrats’ pro-life convictions and urging the public to call and thank them. We knew the value and the necessity of pro-life leadership and pro-life themes in both major parties.
When the betrayal of our cause came over that final weekend last March, I was both politically disappointed and personally heartbroken. Of the Stupak Coalition, only Dan Lipinski of Illinois stood with us all the way through, and his valiant efforts to head off the disaster went for naught. He understood the stakes and that, like any grassroots organization in America, we would have to answer the betrayal we had suffered.
Over the next eight months, we did just that. Recognizing the likely consequences for himself, Bart Stupak announced his retirement soon after the health vote. He represents a profoundly pro-life district. Soon after, with the help of resources we provided on the ground and the airwaves, Democratic primary voters turned out my old boss, Alan Mollohan, and nominated a pro-life replacement.
We ramped up our efforts against 18 other members of the Stupak Coalition, with former Rep. Marilyn Musgrave leading a multi-state “Votes Have Consequences” bus tour through the Midwest to highlight how these “pro-life” Democrats had wilted on the day of decision.
Then, in the last two months after Labor Day, we raced to the finish line and used $3.4 million of the record amount we raised this year on billboards, radio and television ads, nearly one million mailers to pro-life voters, robo calls and other measures to turn out the incumbents who had turned their backs on the unborn and their mothers. Believe me, I would much rather have spent that money protecting these incumbents and investing even more in Senate races where pro-life women challengers needed our help.
We did, however, have the joy of helping Dan Lipinski return to office, and overall we won 75 percent of our races against the turncoat Democrats.
The 112th Congress that meets in January will have more pro-life women than ever. And the leaders of both parties have been reminded that pro-life voters count. That we remember. And that our convictions about life are not “also-rans” to any political party’s priorities.