[Pro-Life Infonet Note: On Monday, the U.S. Senate will vote on the
McCain-Feingold bill that would restrict the free speech rights of
pro-life organizations. The following is a recent letter from National
Right to Life to members of the U.S. Senate that briefly explains some of
the ways the legislation adversely affects pro-life groups that are
involved in legislations and elections. Please take a few minutes to call
your Senators' office Monday morning to urge opposition to the bill. You
can reach the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 or go to
http://www.senate.gov to find additional contact information for your
The amending process on the McCain-Feingold bill has produced a bill that
would violate the constitutional rights of our organization, our
affiliates, and our members to an even greater degree than the bill as
introduced. Therefore, the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) urges
you to vote against final passage of the bill.
Because the bill would greatly impair our right to effectively inform the
public about events in Congress, and would place both our organization and
members of Congress at legal risk for engaging in constitutionally
protected communications regarding public policy issues, NRLC will include
the vote on final passage of S. 27 in our scorecard of key votes for the
Among the most objectionable provisions of the amended bill are those
dealing with issue advocacy and "coordinated activity."
As amended by the Wellstone Amendment, Section 201 of the bill bans NRLC,
NRLC affiliates, and all other 501(c)(4) advocacy corporations (not PACs)
from funding TV or radio ads that even mention the name of a local member
of Congress for 30 days before a state's congressional primary, and for
another 60 days before the general election (or a runoff election). For
example, if the House of Representatives takes up a bill to ban
partial-birth abortions on March 4, 2002, NRLC would be prohibited from
running ads the week before the vote on Christian radio stations in the
districts of "swing vote" House members in California, Illinois, Ohio,
Pennsylvania, and Texas, urging, "Please call Congressman _______and urge
him to vote for the bill to ban partial-birth abortions."
The section on "coordinated activity" (Section 214) would place both
incumbent senators and advocacy groups at legal risk for engaging in
cooperative or parallel activities in support of common legislative goals.
A single communication to the public by an organization that reflected a
"general or particular understanding with a candidate" would establish an
irrevocable condition of "coordination" between the organization and the
senator for an entire six-year term. Any subsequent activity by the
organization deemed to be "of value" to the senator would constitute an
illegal campaign "contribution." Moreover, the bill (p. 30-31) would
require the senator to report all such "coordinated" activity by the
organization, even though he may have had no knowledge of the activity.
David N. O'Steen, Ph.D.
National Right to Life Committee