The Changing Politics of Abortion

by Ramesh Ponnuru

My new Bloomberg View column is about developments in the abortion wars in Texas and in Washington, D.C.–or really, one development: pro-lifers’ embrace of the first discrete, popular initiative they have championed since they won on partial-birth abortion a decade ago.

[The Texas] filibuster came just days after the U.S. House passed its own bill, on an almost party-line vote, to ban abortion five months after conception, except in cases of rape or when the mother’s life is threatened.

Liberals have been viewing these controversies in light of the 2012 campaign, when two pro-life Republicans sank their U.S. Senate campaigns and put their whole party on defense by saying they opposed abortion even in cases of rape, and saying it in clumsy ways. Democrats are using every Republican gaffe to call that history to mind, and sometimes taking Republican comments that aren’t gaffes out of context for the same purpose. . . .

[I]n 2012, most Republicans reacted to the comments opposing abortion in cases of rape by denying that they held such views and then trying to change the subject; their nervousness made them look like they were hiding an extremist agenda.

This time, Republicans actually have a response: legislation that highlights how pro-choice Democrats are out of step with the public.

I go to speculate about what the future might have in store for state senator Wendy Davis.

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