The lawsuit to block Medicaid expansion is being advanced by a motley crew of state legislators, as well as Cincinnati Right to Life (CRTL). Why would CRTL be opposed to expanding health insurance, which will unarguably save lives?  Even when Ohio Right to Life (ORTL) has endorsed the expansion?

CRTL’s explanation is that Medicaid can be used to get primary care services from people who are also abortion providers. Therefore, Medicaid abets abortion providers and should be opposed.

Take note: in addition to opposing birth control and sex education, the anti-choice movement is also opposed to health insurance. It won’t be long until they argue that all doctors are abortion providers because all doctors refer patients to other doctors who may or may not be philosophically opposed to abortion.

This marks an important evolution. It’s no longer accurate to say “CRTL was never about abortion, they were about controlling women’s sex lives”; it’s now clear that “CRTL was never about abortion or women’s sex lives, they were always about making money.”

It’s important to note that RTL groups have no earned income; they don’t do anything. Their advocacy can only happen by soliciting donations. For most purposes, this is a zero-sum game: every dollar given to ORTL is a dollar that CRTL can’t get.

As for the best way to get that money, I think George Carlin has the best insight.  If CRTL donors think that health insurance causes abortions then clearly CRTL can convince them of anything.


To understand the relationship between ORTL and CRTL, and to better understand why one would support Medicaid expansion and one would oppose it, let’s look at the tale of two hypothetical environmental groups…

The first groups gets organized to oppose fracking. Their goal is to ban is, and their strategy is to 1) elect legislators who agree with them, then 2) lobby them to pass laws banning fracking. They call themselves Ohioans Against Fracking (OAF).

OAF raises money from people who oppose fracking. They have a good plan and a solid catalogue of legislative maneuvers to curb fracking, so people are happy to give.

Seeing all the money that OAF makes, a second group sets up shop. This group–which is basically redundant–calls itself the Society of Citizens Against Methane, or SCAM. SCAM wants some of the money that OAF raises, so they ally themselves with OAF. Their tactics are less legislative and more practical (protesting outside fracking sites, showing anti-fracking movies) and they’re able to raise money from people who would rather fund direct action than lobbying.

This equilibrium works well, until OAF finally succeeds in electing a governor and legislature that it endorsed.

Since fracking polls well and pretty much everybody is more concerned with the economy, legislators aren’t willing to ban fracking outright. Instead, they want to pass regulations and taxes to reduce the amount of fracking in Ohio, and make it safer and cleaner.

OAF settles for these bills. They advance the mission, after all, of reducing fracking. Nobody who opposes fracking could realistically oppose these bills, even though they don’t go nearly as far as OAF’s donors would like.

SCAM sees the opportunity and pounces. Even though they don’t have a legislative background, they introduce a bill to ban fracking in Ohio. They hold flamboyant press events to promote the bill and demand loyalty from their endorsed legislators.

Their bill, however, is poorly written. It wouldn’t actually ban fracking because of its numerous loopholes and ignorance of federal regulations. OAF quietly opposes it because they understand (rightly) that in the medium-term, the bill would actually increase the amount of fracking in the state.

SCAM then goes after OAF’s donors. “If you want to ban fracking, don’t give money to OAF,” they say. “SCAM’s legislative solutions are the only ones that should be supported by people who want to ban fracking.”

This argument goes pretty marvelously, and SCAM raises millions of dollars.

The following session, the federal government creates a program wherein states can subsidize wind farms and lower electricity costs generated by wind. It’s a very contentious issue, but OAF supports it because making wind energy cheaper puts natural gas at a disadvantage.

SCAM gets another opportunity to attack. “The wind subsidy benefits frackers!” This is “true” because energy giants that invest in fracking also invest in wind farms. It makes them less likely to frack, sure, but it definitely benefits their wind side.

SCAM doesn’t go through the entire argument, though. They just say “if Ohio accepts the federal money, it will go to frackers. Stop the frackers by stopping the federal money!”

Even though there’s no real connection between the issues, anti-fracking donors are more likely to oppose the wind subsidy for unrelated reasons (there’s a provision that the turbines must be built in Southeast Asian sweat shops). From an ideological perspective, SCAM’s vocal opposition makes no sense. From a fundraising perspective, however, it’s a brilliant wedge between OAF and anti-fracking donors.

To put a cherry on top of their scheme, SCAM files a silly lawsuit to try to stop the wind subsidy. This quixotic endeavor is clearly a waste of donor money, but it’s a great publicity stunt. Soon, everybody will know that the wind subsidy benefits frackers, and SCAM is the organization who’s doing everything they can to stop it.

Sure, it hurts Ohioans. And sure, it results in more fracking. But at the end of the day, the lawsuit gives SCAM a lot more power and a lot more money.