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April 5, 2011 at 4:17 PM

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Radio ads pressure Reichert to vote for abortion bill he already supports

Posted by Jim Brunner

U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert is one of several Republican lawmakers being targeted in radio ads by a Christian conservative group urging Congress to pass broader restrictions on taxpayer funding of abortions.

The ads, running for a week on local conservative and Christian stations, might give the impression that Reichert is wavering on the abortion issue.

Yet just recently, abortion-rights activists protested outside Reichert's Mercer Island headquarters because of his recent votes to deny federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

And in fact, Reichert voted last week for the new abortion-funding restrictions that the new radio ads are promoting.

What gives?

It turns out the sponsors of the new anti-abortion ads were a little confused.

Connie Mackey, president of the Family Research Council Action PAC, said the group had been unaware of Reichert's vote on the latest abortion funding restrictions, contained in H.R. 1232.

"We should be very clear that we were wrong on that," Mackey said.

A top priority for abortion foes, H.R. 1232 targets tax credits that the new health care law created to help people buy private health insurance. The bill would prohibit the credits from being used to subsidize abortions, essentially widening the current federal ban on direct funding of abortion. Critics say it would turn the IRS into "abortion cops."

As a member of the House Ways & Means committee, Reichert voted last week to move the measure to the full House.

Reichert spokeswoman Amanda Halligan said Reichert "has serious concerns with any legislation that would use taxpayer dollars to fund this procedure, save an exception in cases of rape, incest or where the life of the mother would be endangered."

Despite the confusion over Reichert, Mackey said the ads will continue. The spots, running on KTTH AM, KGNW AM and KCMS FM, don't actually criticize Reichert, they just urge listeners to tell him to support the abortion restrictions.

The ads play the voice of longtime anti-abortion crusader, former Congressman Henry Hyde, who calls the abortion debate part of a "mortal conflict between a culture of death and a culture of life," adding, "today, we must choose sides."

The ads urge voters to call Reichert's office.

Even if he seems to be largely on their side, "we thought he might need a little pressure to stick with us on this vote," Mackey said.

You can't blame anti-abortion groups for being a little suspicious of Reichert. He's spent years navigating a cautious political course on abortion-related issues.

He has repeatedly opposed federal funding for abortions and has been targeted by pro-choice groups as an enemy of family-planning and comprehensive sex education.

But Reichert also has angered abortion foes with his support for embryonic stem-cell research and other votes. In 2007-2008, he voted with the National Right to Life Committee just 42 percent of the time.

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Jim Brunner
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