Federal Judge: SBA List Didn’t Tell the Truth, No Abortion Funding in Healthcare Law
One of the primary sources of this myth has been the Susan B. Anthony List, which made the claim the centerpiece of their 2010 campaign against pro-life Democrats who voted for ACA. One of these congressmen — U.S. Rep. Steve Driehaus, who lost his re-election race — filed a complaint about this deceptive campaign to the Ohio Elections Commission. Since Ohio has laws prohibiting false campaign statements, SBA List faced sanctions for repeatedly employing the false claim in their campaign material.
Yesterday, a federal judge ruled against the SBA List’s attempt to have the case dismissed, finding “significant evidence that [SBA's] statements are false.” Just like last year’s similar ruling in Virginia, the court concluded that there is no tax-funded abortion in the health care law.
SBA List’s response to the ruling was to reiterate the same confusing arguments it made to the judge:
“…[SBA List] researched Obamacare themselves, and they also read the opinions of other groups that also concluded that Obamacare provided taxpayer funds for abortion services. Yet this court found, in spite of that, and in spite of the fact that their speech is true or at least their protected opinion [added bold], that their speech might be defamatory.”
SBA List is trying to have their cake and eat it too. Purely by definition, the SBA List’s speech cannot be both “true” and “protected opinion.” The legal term “protected opinion” refers to a pure statement of opinion that can’t be proven true or false. The court documented repeated instances of the SBA List promoting the claim as “facts” and “the truth,” and went on to strike down that claim as false:
“Whether it is possible, under contingent circumstances, that at some point in the future, upon the execution of x, y and z, that the PPACA would not prevent taxpayer funded abortion is entirely different from providing for ‘tax-payer funded abortion.’ The express language of the PPACA does not provide for tax-payer funding abortion. That is a fact, and it is clear on its face.”
In that case, the SBA List’s speech doesn’t fit in either of the categories — it’s not true, it’s not protected opinion, and it’s not going to stand up in our courts of law.
Rather that continuing to defend a misinformation campaign that continues to be exposed as patently false, the SBA List needs to figure out how to start telling the whole truth. We’re hoping this ruling will set a precedent for truth-telling about this persistent myth.