August 19, 2011 — Susan B. Anthony List on Thursday filed an appeal of a federal judge's ruling that the group incorrectly claimed in advertisements that the federal health reform law (PL 111-148) includes taxpayer funding for abortion, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports. The appeal was filed in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (Baker, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 8/18).
During former Rep. Steven Driehaus' (D-Ohio) campaign for the 2010 election, which he ultimately lost to Rep. Steve Chabot (R), SBA List sponsored ads claiming that Driehaus' vote to support the health reform law amounted to support for taxpayer-funded abortion (Women's Health Policy Report, 8/2). Driehaus sued SBA List for defamation, and the group sought to dismiss his lawsuit, saying that Ohio's election laws limit free speech in violation of the U.S. Constitution ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 8/18).
Driehaus asked the Ohio Election Commission to intervene on the grounds that the billboards violated Ohio election law by making "false claims." The commission sided with Driehaus, ruling that there was "probable cause" that SBA List violated Ohio law by making false statements in an election campaign.
U.S. District Judge Timothy Black in early August agreed, saying, "The express language of (the health reform law) does not provide for taxpayer-funded abortion." He added, "That is a fact, and it is clear on its face." Black's decision allowed Driehaus' lawsuit against SBA List to move forward (Women's Health Policy Report, 8/2).
In response to Black's decision, SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said, "The idea that a judge would take it upon himself to police speech, specifically statements on a position taken by the majority of the U.S. House of Representatives, The Congressional Research Service, the Catholic Church, and the entire pro-life movement, shakes our Constitutional foundation," ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 8/18).