Ben Johnson

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National pro-life group’s computers seized after former Democrat Congressman sues

Ben Johnson

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 6, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Susan B. Anthony List had its computers seized as evidence last week as part of their ongoing legal battle with a defeated Democratic congressman.

Steve Driehaus, who voted for President Obama’s health care bill when he represented Ohio’s first congressional district, sued the organization after it said his vote supported taxpayer-funded abortions. SBA had considered erecting billboards saying, “Shame on Steve Driehaus! Driehaus voted FOR taxpayer-funded abortion,” although the signs never went up.

Driehaus lost to Congressman Steve Chabot by a sizable margin.

Ohio law forbids publishing a “false statement concerning the voting record of a candidate or public official.” Driehaus withdrew a complaint shortly after the election, but filed another suit after a judge ruled pro-life groups had not sufficiently proven the health care act funds abortion.   

Driehaus argued the proposed-but-never-erected billboards amounted to defamation and sued for loss of livelihood, because SBA’s opposition contributed to his seven-point defeat in 2010. The Affordable Care Act, he claims, does not fund abortion. 

Judge Thomas Black, an Obama appointee, allowed the suit to move forward. 

In a statement e-mailed to LifeSiteNews.com, SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said, “We refuse to be bullied and will not turn our backs on protecting unborn babies who would otherwise have no voice if we didn’t fight to defend the right to speak on their behalf.”

She also rejected the notion Driehaus had been improperly deprived of his seat in Congress. “Politicians like Steve Driehaus are turning their backs on them and trying to hide their votes, and then when we hold them accountable by bringing those votes to light, they are trying to use the federal courts to force us to incur massive legal fees and pay damages for allegedly depriving them of their ‘livelihood.’ But they are wrong,” she wrote. “Elected officials serve at the pleasure of the people.”

His lawsuit, she said, is intended to drain “our staff resources away from critical election year programs right when they matter the most.”

Driehaus’ lawyer, Paul DeMarco, said his client “wasn’t going to put up with lies that went to the heart of his core beliefs and damaged his reputation.” 

Multiple pro-life organizations had warned Driehaus the vote on ObamaCare would weigh heavily in their determination on whether to endorse the moderately pro-life Democrat in 2010. Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, said if Driehaus had stood by a pledge to vote against the health care bill, often referred to as ObamaCare, “he deserves a Medal of Valor and the gratitude of the pro-life movement.”

When Driehaus voted for the bill, NRLC endorsed his opponent, Republican Steve Chabot, who had a 97 percent pro-life voting record. Driehaus’ pro-life rating was 50 percent.

Democrats for Life of America supported both the bill and Driehaus’ lawsuit against SBA.

James Bopp, Jr., counsel for the SBA List, told LifeSiteNews a few months ago that “SBA List’s speech was true, or at the very least it was protected opinion about the meaning of Obamacare.” He added, “This ruling means that anybody criticizing a candidate is in danger of a defamation claim.”

Dannenfelser remains unbowed.

“I hope they look [at the computers] carefully,” she said, “because they’ll find tons of information revealing an organization that is unapologetically exercising its First Amendment rights to fight for the soul of pro-life America.”

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