Pro-Life leaders at the National Right to Life Conference said the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Obamacare will strengthen both the pro-life movement and Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.
On Thursday, the United States Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act, arguing its individual mandate constitutes a tax upon Americans. On the same day, pro-life leaders gathered at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Crystal City, Virginia, for the yearly conference of the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC).
When a spokesman for NRLC delivered news of the ruling on Thursday morning, the crowd grew quiet. One audience member broke the silence, saying "no!"
Burke J. Balch, Director of NRLC’s Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics, said the Affordable Care Act threatens health care rationing as early as 2013.
Rochelle Focarracci, spokesperson for Girl Scouts, Why Not, said, "We didn’t expect that. … We really thought that the mandate was going to be overturned."
In response to the Supreme Court ruling, NRLC President Carol Tobias issued a press release, urging pro-lifers to vote for Mitt Romney.
"All voters who care about the value and dignity of human life must do everything they can to elect Mitt Romney and a Congress who are [sic] committed to repeal of Obamacare," she said.
The release called the Supreme Court’s ruling "a call-to-action for the right-to-life electorate."
Former Governor and Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney delivered a video address on Friday, promising, "If elected President I will work with you to foster respect for innocent human life."
While he did not explicitly mention the ruling on Obamacare, he promised to "reverse Obama regulations that attack our religious freedom and threaten innocent life" and said he would "nominate judges who respect the Constitution, are proponents of judicial restraint and know the difference between personal opinion and the law."
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) urged pro-lifers to vote for Mitt Romney. "The Supreme Court decision," Cantor explained, "means that Americans must elect Mitt Romney and a pro-life Congress committed to repealing Obamacare."
As time passed, the mood of the pro-life contingent turned from despondent to energetic.
"It took us about twenty minutes to go from being disappointed and a little bit down to prepared to storm the walls," said Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.).
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, the conference’s keynote speaker, told the Free Beacon that the Supreme Court ruling would strengthen Romney "into the fall, even though I would have liked for the decision to have gone the other way."
"I think it was a good day for Mitt Romney," he said. "A strong majority of the public does not want this legislation."
That statement is backed up by a new poll from Rasmussen showing that 52 percent of likely voters favor repeal. Romney’s campaign raised $4.6 million in the 24 hours following the Supreme Court ruling.
Brownback did not think that the decision would attract more people to the pro-life movement. "The pro-life movement is [already] winning hearts and minds," he said, citing Gallup polling which reveals marked growth in people identifying themselves as "pro-life" during the last year.
Hannah Trice, executive assistant at Arkansas Right to Life, disagreed.
"I think it’s going to be a great way to bring more people into the movement," she said.
She described the issue of abortion as "a lot more controversial" than the repeal of Obamacare. "All of us at this convention know that Obamacare really is a pro-life issue," she explained. "That’s something we can present to people," to bring them "into the movement."
Mary Rice Hasson, a Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, said, "I think that the decision was wrongly decided, but to the extent that it motivates people to action, maybe some good will come out of it."
Abbey Heidrich, with North Dakota Right to Life, agreed. "As bad as it sounds," she said, "right away, it could actually be a unifying force—something to bring us together—something that in the end will help us defeat Barack Obama by electing Mitt Romney."
Gabriela Weigel, a junior at St. Gregory’s University in Shawnee, Oklahoma, sang Panis Angelicus at the convention’s closing banquet. "We’ve now realized that Obamacare—something not beneficial to our nation—is clearly on the road to taking place, and it’s more important now than ever to replace President Obama," she said.
Angela Franks, coordinator of Planned Parenthood Hurts Girls, in Morgantown, W.Va., said, "I think it will certainly energize, not only the Romney campaign, but all of the campaigns out there."
Franks also thought it would invigorate the pro-life movement since "it reminds us that we can’t ever give up on the fundamental political activity of electing pro-life legislators and executives. … We can’t expect the Supreme Court to solve all of our problems."
Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, said the ruling "will and should mobilize and energize us for the elections, because personnel is policy."
Urging pro-lifers to reject Obama, he said, "We look forward to the future Congress and the future Presidency as an opportunity to craft a brand new law that will embody the good things about this legislation … but eliminate those things which are a threat to life, freedom, and conscience."
He voiced his support for health care reform, but also argued that abortion and contraception are not health care "because pregnancy is not a disease, and children are not a disease."