If Republicans can’t run against Democrats on abortion, they can’t run against them on anything #Republicans #run #Democrats #abortion #run Welcome to Viasildes, here is the new story we have for you today:
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There’s a bipartisan consensus that the Democrats’ “stunning turnaround” in recent polls has a lot to do with abortion. Pew found that from March to August the percentage who said abortion was “very important” for the 2022 elections went from 43% to 56%. And during that time 538 recorded Republicans going from the 2.1% lead in the genetic ballot over Democrats to a 0.9% deficit.
Abortion rights activists were ready to pounce as soon as Dobbs was decided. Much as what happened in Ireland when abortion activists there defeated their pro-life constitution, U.S. abortion activists have cynically seized on very rare (though admittedly difficult) cases involving the life and health of pregnant women — trying to paint a picture of massive numbers of women dying of laws protecting prenatal justice.
But Irish law defended prenatal children as legal persons for decades, and they still had better health outcomes for women than their abortion-permissive neighbor, England. Poland has the lowest rate of maternal mortality in all of Europe despite having some of the strictest laws against abortion. Chile actually saw their maternal health numbers improve after they banned most abortions.
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If U.S. pro-lifers had been ready for the activist onslaught, we could have been creating a (true) counter-narrative about the fact that pro-life hospitals and OB/GYNs are 100% committed to saving the lives of women.
Graffiti and red paint found at Washington, DC’s Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center. (Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center)
(Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center)
But not all the blame lies with activists. It is difficult to create a national counter-narrative, frankly, when the supposedly pro-life national party is running scared.
Much attention was focused on the House special election for New York’s 19th District. As reported by Axios, the Democrat centered his campaign on abortion while the Republican ran away from the issue, focusing on the economy and crime. The Democrat won by the same margin Biden carried the district (two points) in 2020 — just the latest evidence that the expected red wave may be turning into a trickle.
But what if Republicans in New York focused on the fact that the Empire State, after the passage of the Reproductive Health Act, is a haven for some of the worst abortion extremism in the entire world? What if Republicans all over the United States had a coherent campaign focusing on the fact that the Democratic Party itself stands for this same kind of extremism?
Back in 2016 I wrote a joint op-ed in the Los Angeles Times showing that the party’s position was unequivocal support for abortion, with a pledge to repeal all state and federal laws restricting it. They even insisted that abortion was “core to women’s, men’s, and young people’s health and wellbeing.” They removed protections for religious freedom and insisted pro-lifers should have to pay for abortions with our tax dollars.
This position is about the most unpopular position one could take on almost any issue.
Gallup consistently finds, for instance, that about 8-13% of Americans want no legal restrictions on abortion after 24 weeks. To put this into perspective, the worst approval rating for a president belonged to Harry Truman: 22%.
The Democratic position on abortion is almost twice as unpopular as the most unpopular president in our history. If you can’t run against the Democrats on abortion, then you can’t run against them on anything.
Here are just a handful of suggestions for the GOP to make the easy case against their opponents:
The Democratic position on abortion is almost twice as unpopular as the most unpopular president in our history.
Drive home that, even when Roe was the law of the land, we were already one of the most extreme countries on abortion in the entire world; Democrats want to make us the world leader in killing prenatal human beings;Platform and amplify the amazing stories of women who have survived abortions;Highlight what it is like for people with Down syndrome and other disabilities living in a country where they are systematically killed prenatally because of their disabilities;Talk about a 50% abortion rate of black babies in New York City and explicitly tell the racist and eugenic history of abortion in the U.S.;Emphasize how often abortion is pushed by men and discuss the need to address the strong correlation between abortion and intimate partner violence;Talk about how the economically vulnerable and working class without college degrees are more pro-life than the privileged in our culture who are more pro-choice;Be clear that you are committed to creating a better world for vulnerable women and families, not by telling them they need to kill their own children, but by providing paid family leave and more generous child allowances.
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The GOP has been feckless on abortion for decades. Who could forget, for instance, Republican Timothy Murphy trying to coerce his mistress into having an abortion — despite his being a member of the congressional pro-life caucus! Pro-lifers, therefore, have good reason to be skeptical about selling out to a party for short-term political gain — especially when we have clear incentives to play the long game in order to win the political culture.
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This fact comes a warning for a cowardly GOP: if you keep this up, pro-lifers will either stay home or turn elsewhere in November. You must prove that you will publicly and confidentially defend a pro-life position—not just on social media or in fundraising mailers — but in a post-Dobbs moment when your position actually matters in the real world.