Politics & Policy

Planned Parenthood Has Handed GOP Candidates a Gift — They’re Running with It

Carly Fiorina (File photo: Scott Olson/Getty)
The era of Todd Akin-ism may be over.

Abortion is back in the news in a big way, thanks to two harrowing videos from the Center for Medical Progress. It turns out there is such a thing as bad publicity — for example, the revelation that your taxpayer-subsidized “women’s health” operation has been trafficking in the remains of aborted babies, and that you “huddle” in the morning to figure out how many babies you need to “crush” and “crunch” to fill orders.

This is, then, prime time for left-wing media types to remind voters that, don’t you know?!, when it comes to abortions these Republicans are crazy! So it comes as a delight to see that Republican presidential candidates are not having it.

Last week, Rick Perry stopped by Morning Joe, where Mark Halperin — best known of late for trying to test Ted Cruz’s Cuban bona fides — thought he’d put Perry’s abortion “extremism” on display:

Fiorina: Let’s talk about the legislation that’s sitting on the Senate floor right now, which does allow for [exceptions for rape and incest]. Let’s also talk about Hillary Clinton’s position. Let’s talk about what extreme is. “It’s not a life until it leaves the hospital.” That’s Hillary Clinton’s position. It’s Hillary Clinton’s position that a 13-year-old girl needs her mother’s permission to go to a tanning salon or get a tattoo, but not to get an abortion. It’s Hillary Clinton’s position that women should not be permitted to look at an ultrasound before an abortion, and yet people who are trying to harvest body parts can use an ultrasound to make sure those body parts are preserved so they can be sold. That, Jake, is extreme.

The only way Fiorina could have improved on this performance would have been to drop the mic and walk out.

What Paul and Perry and Fiorina understand — and what left-wing media personalities and Beltway liberals don’t — is that the American public is not blasé about abortion. As I noted in April, a 2014 Gallup poll found that only one in four Americans thought abortion should be legal at any time; the Pew Research Center reported only one in five. Talk in terms of trimesters, and the numbers are even starker. A 2012 Gallup poll found that only 14 percent of respondents favored legal abortions in the third trimester, and only 27 percent supported legal abortions in the second trimester. Republicans’ proposed prohibition on abortions after 20 weeks, or about halfway through the second trimester, which passed the House in May, is entirely in keeping with public opinion.

No Republican politician should answer a question about abortion without first demanding that Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer and Hillary Clinton answer for their positions.

Democrats, meanwhile, have an official platform — “We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine” a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy — that sides against 86 percent of Americans. And Democrats’ rhetoric is even more extreme: “I think when you bring your baby home, when your baby is born . . . the baby belongs to your family and has all the rights.” So said California senator Barbara Boxer in 1999. As George Will wrote in 2010, “It is theoretically impossible to fashion an abortion position significantly more extreme than Boxer’s, which is slightly modified infanticide” (italics in the original).

Republican politicians have played defense on the abortion question for years, afraid to be condemned as “extreme” by the extremists in NOW and NARAL and the other squads of hands-off-my-ovaries harpies. Todd Akin’s implosion was just the most graceless version of that party-wide defensive posture.

#related#No longer. Partial-birth abortions, abortion-by-dismemberment, Kermit Gosnell, now the Planned Parenthood organ-harvesting side business: The rot at the root of the abortion industry is evident, and Republicans are finally seeing that they can, and should, go on offense.

The strategy is simple: No Republican politician should answer a question about abortion without first demanding that Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer and Hillary Clinton answer for their positions. And putting Democrats on the defensive is not just good politics; it makes it that much more likely that the abortion industry can, finally, be crushed.

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