If EMILY's List Supports a Candidate, What Does That Tell You?

By Carol Tobias
NRL PAC Director

If the political action committee (PAC) known as EMILY's List is directing money to a candidate for public office, you can be sure of three things:

* The candidate is a woman.

* The candidate is a Democrat.

* The candidate opposes any and all limitations on abortion and supports full tax funding of abortion.

EMILY's List is usually described as a PAC organized to help elect Democratic women who support abortion. EMILY's List specializes in "bundling" -- that is, funneling large numbers of contributions from individual donors to the candidates to whom it awards slots on its "list." But to get on the list, it is not sufficient just to generally support legal abortion or Roe v. Wade.

EMILY's List helped elect two women U.S. senators, Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Blanche Lincoln Lambert (D-Ar.), in 1996 and 1998, respectively.

In 1999, the Senate considered the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. Both Landrieu and Lambert first voted for a "substitute amendment" that would have gutted the ban -- but when that attack failed, they also voted to pass the ban. That was enough to get them excommunicated by EMILY's List.

In the group's December 1999 newsletter, EMILY's List President Ellen Malcolm stated that it would no longer support the two senators because they had voted to ban partial-birth abortions. Malcolm wrote, "Since these senators no longer meet EMILY's List's criteria on choice, they will be removed from the EMILY's List advisory committee and will no longer be eligible for EMILY's List support."

EMILY's List has taken a similar hard line on the issue of tax funding of abortions. In 1993, EMILY's List reprinted its stationary to remove the names of two House members -- Karen Thurman (D-Fl.) and Jill Long (D-In.). Both lawmakers had overall pro-abortion voting records, but they had both voted to renew the Hyde Amendment, prohibiting federal funding of abortions except to save the life of the mother, or in cases of rape or incest.

In its report on this incident, a Capitol Hill newsletter noted, "In the future, the group hopes to ensure that its candidates support abortion rights in all its manifestations" (CQ Congressional Monitor, October 6, 1993).

In 1994, EMILY's List refused to support a generally pro-abortion woman in Wyoming because she didn't meet their criteria. Kathy Karpan, who ran for governor, stated, "I flunk the litmus test because I do not believe in government-funded abortion on demand and I do not believe in including abortion in any health care reform."

If a candidate in your state has been endorsed by EMILY's List, you should make every effort to publicize what that means: A candidate supported by EMILY's List supports tax funding of abortion on demand and supports partial-birth abortion.