A prominent anti-abortion group threatened this week to bring political "consequences" against a handful of moderate Republicans who voted last month against an amendment to defund Planned Parenthood, Roll Call reports.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List), said that "Without question, there will be consequences," for the seven Republicans who voted against the Pence Amendment on Feb. 18. According to Roll call, she threatened to push primary candidates on those Congress members - most of whom serve swing states.
The seven Republicans who voted against the measure were Reps. Robert Dold (Ill.), Richard Hanna (N.Y.), Judy Biggert (Ill.), Mary Bono Mack (Calif.), Charlie Dent (Pa.), Rodney Frelinghuysen (N.J.) and Charles Bass (N.H.). The amendment passed with a vote of 240 to 185, with eleven Democrats voting for the amendment and seven Republicans voting against it. One Congress member voted "present."Critics Seek to Defund Planned Parenthood
"It's not just our group, but others are very focused on those folks, and our allies have proven a willingness to get involved in primaries when it matters," she told the paper.
The national debate over abortion has heightened in recent weeks, after Republican Rep. Mike Pence, of Indiana, proposed a measure that would defund Planned Parenthood and eliminate a program that provides aid for family planning and reproductive health.
The amendment, which was attached to a bill to would fund the government through September,, but has little hope of making it through the Senate - and would likely be vetoed by President Obama if it did. But activists on both side of the issue have used the vote as a kind of litmus test on Congress members' positions on abortion rights.
The SBA List announced earlier this week that it is rolling out a massive campaign, called "Women Speaking Out," in support of the measure. The campaign - which kicked off on Tuesday and consists of a 14-stop grassroots tour and a $200,000 ad campaign - will launch a series of television and radio ads in support those Congress members who voted for the amendment, and attack those who opposed it.
Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood on Monday announced a counter-offensive against efforts on behalf of the Pence Amendment, with a particular focus on highlighting non-abortion health care services the organization provides to millions of American women.
In a television ad launched on Monday, the group told the story of a woman whose visit to Planned Parenthood as young woman saved her life, when a routine Pap test showed that she had cervical cancer.
"Carolyn's story is the story of women we see every year," said Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, in a statement on Monday. "The proposal to bar Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funds for preventive health care would have a devastating impact on women like Carolyn. That's why we are urging the Senate to reject this extreme proposal."
Speaker of the House John Boehner said in a recent interview that he would not necessarily attempt to derail the passage of a bill to fund the government on the sole grounds that it eliminated the Planned Parenthood measure.
"The goal here again is to cut spending and keep the government open," he told CBN's David Brody on Sunday. "I met with a lot of religious leaders earlier today to talk about the strategy and I think it's important that we understand that what we want to do here is win the war not just win a battle."
"There will be an opportunity some time in order to win the big war and we're looking for that opportunity," he continued. "I don't think this short term CR is the opportunity that will get us there."