When Marjorie Dannenfelser first came to Capitol Hill, before she became the most politically relevant voice of the anti-abortion lobby, before she extracted from the host of The Apprentice a promise to appoint anti-abortion judges, and before those judges tilted the Court decisively against a constitutionally protected right to an abortion, she was a young assistant to West Virginia Democrat Alan Mollohan. While out for a sandwich, Alan Mollohan had once been handed a flyer depicting an aborted fetus, a moment he recalled as having pressed upon him a certain undeniable horror. In 1989, he was head of the pro-life caucus in the House. “He was good to me,” Dannenfelser told me, “like a father. He cared about me.” He let her ignore her boring responsibilities to focus on the issue about which she had become passionate.
It was from Mollohan that Dannenfelser learned what she considers “one of the most important lessons” in politics: There can be no hesitation in the exercise of political power. “If you shoot a bear,” he told her, “you have to kill it.” Two decades later, in 2010, Dannenfelser was the head of the Susan B. Anthony List, a group that works exclusively to elect anti-abortion legislators. That was the year Mollohan, now a 14-term congressman with impeccable anti-abortion credentials, voted in a way that she considered objectionable. He believed Obamacare effectively excluded federally funded abortions; she did not feel Obama’s executive order to this effect was reliable. After he voted for the bill, she directed her PAC to spend $78,000 against Mollohan, running radio ads that said, “Alan Mollohan betrayed us and voted to spend our federal dollars … on abortions,” though this was at best unclear. The congressman lost his 14th bid for reelection. If you shoot a bear, you have to kill it….
The above comes from a May 9 story in The Cut (New York magazine).