What Voters Will Remember about Abortion in November

by Carl A. Anderson

On November 7, we may well look back at this week’s events and see that this was the week that President Obama lost the presidency — because of the abortion issue.

What the Obama campaign has decided to do is to make unrestricted access to abortion a key component of his campaign. By highlighting Sandra Fluke, NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and a host of pro-abortion advocates at the Democratic National Convention, their strategy seems to be to use abortion as a wedge issue in order to paint Republicans as out of touch with most Americans.

Exactly the opposite is true. Our Knights of Columbus/Marist poll conducted this year found that only 12 percent of Americans support the president’s position on abortion. A full 88 percent support significant restrictions and 79 percent would limit abortion to the first three months of pregnancy. 

Interestingly, 20 percent of Americans would allow abortion only to save the life of the mother — or not at all. That’s almost twice those who support the president’s position.

Moreover, our Knights of Columbus/Marist poll in May found that Americans say abortion is “morally wrong” by a 58 to 40 percent margin.

These numbers strongly suggest that embracing a policy of unrestricted abortion is nothing short of a losing strategy.

Come November, those entering voting booths from coast to coast are unlikely to be concerned by the poorly worded comments of a Senate candidate in Missouri. What they are likely to remember is that the president has embraced the most radical abortion position possible — one out of step with nearly nine in ten Americans.

The strident, pro-abortion face of the Democratic party that the nation will see during its upcoming convention also will underscore why it is that a real accommodation with the Catholic Church on the unpopular HHS mandate has not been reached and why one will be unlikely in the future.

#more#Four years ago, candidate Obama was able to build a winning coalition that included Catholics and Evangelicals because he toned down the abortion rhetoric. Despite his own extreme voting record on the subject, he and his surrogates succeeded in muting his abortion stance in reaching out to Catholic and Evangelical voters.

He reached out to people like Pastor Rick Warren, who later said the prayer at the president’s inauguration. Now Reverend Warren says he will go to jail rather than comply with the HHS mandate.

He can hardly be alone in his disillusionment.

What must those voters who believed the president’s rhetoric in the last election think now? And what will they think in November?

It is clear that the president’s winning coalition of 2008 is fractured, and it is unlikely to be resurrected by appealing to 12 percent of the population. The Obama-Biden campaign’s new abortion strategy admits that the coalition is gone as far as many Catholics are concerned.

No president has won in recent years without a majority of the Catholic vote — a group that makes up a quarter of our country’s electorate. As of this week, many Catholics may be thinking that we have a president who has now firmly declared himself against life and liberty, while many voters already blamed him for the economic damper on their pursuit of happiness.

When the history of this election is written, it may well be that the decisions his campaign made this week, were decisive — in losing his reelection.

 Carl Anderson is CEO of the Knights of Columbus and the author, most recently, of Beyond a House Divided.

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