Politics & Policy

The Pro-Life Movement Is Winning the Culture — And Elections

Pro-life rally in Washington, D.C., July 28, 2015. (Olivier Douliery/Getty)

Speaker Paul Ryan has announced that in January the House will take up the reconciliation bill considered earlier this month by the U.S. Senate. The landmark legislation, passed by a vote of 52–47, defunds Planned Parenthood — America’s largest abortion provider — of taxpayer dollars and reroutes the funding to comprehensive health-care centers.

The Huffington Post was mystified when the Senate approved the bill: Why would moderate Republicans, some of whom face tough re-election battles in 2016, vote in favor of the measure? Let me clue them in: It’s because the voters they represent — even many who identify themselves as pro-choice — have deep misgivings about abortion on demand, and are horrified by the practices of the nation’s largest abortion provider.

Gallup found this year that a majority of Americans — 55 percent — oppose abortion in all or most circumstances. CNN put that number at 58 percent in 2014. Republicans, as demonstrated by their persistence in reallocating Planned Parenthood’s funds to comprehensive health-care centers earlier this month, are embracing the task of representing the nation’s growing pro-life majority. Democrats ought to look at the recent statewide elections, take a page from Louisiana governor-elect John Bel Edwards, and do the same.

Edwards, a Democrat, won a gubernatorial contest he was largely expected to lose. In a race against longtime pro-life champion Senator David Vitter, Edwards emphasized his pro-life convictions in a statewide television ad and campaign materials. In the TV ad, Edwards’s wife describes how it felt to discover her child had spina bifida at 20 weeks, at which point she was encouraged by doctors to have an abortion. “I was devastated,” Donna Edwards says in the 30-second spot. “But John Bel never flinched. He just said, ‘No. No, we’re going to love this baby no matter what.’” Edwards is arguably the most outspoken pro-life Democrat elected governor since the late Bob Casey Sr. became governor of Pennsylvania in 1986. He might have won without the TV ad, but he could not have won Louisiana — repeatedly ranked the most pro-life state in the nation — with a pro-choice position.

RELATED: Contrary to Media Spin, Public Support for Planned Parenthood Continues to Erode

Jack Conway, on the other hand, the Democratic candidate for governor in Kentucky, may be regretting his pro-abortion stand. Conway lost a race he was heavily favored to win to Republican Matt Bevin. Shortly before his victory, Bevin remarked to the Washington Post that though he tried to talk economics on the campaign trail, voters wanted to hear about Planned Parenthood and religious freedom. “I hear more about those now as I’m out on the campaign trail than I do about anything else. This is what moves people,” he said. Bevin emphasized his pro-life views and his opposition to Planned Parenthood — and on Election Night he surprised the political establishment with a come-from-behind victory.

West Virginia’s Democratic governor Earl Ray Tomblin certainly wishes he had stayed true to his pro-life promises; Republicans took over his state’s legislature for the first time in eight decades after he vetoed pro-life legislation to prohibit abortion after five months of pregnancy last year.

#share#A ban on abortion after five months, or 20 weeks — the point at which an unborn baby can demonstrably feel pain — may seem like a commonsense restriction that most people could agree upon. In fact, they do: A Washington Post/ABC News poll found two-thirds of Americans support it; polls by Quinnipiac, the Huffington Post/YouGov, and NBC/Wall Street Journal had similar results. Women support the measure in higher numbers than men, and the ban is popular among traditionally Democratic-leaning constituencies, including Hispanics and young people.

Yet abortion advocates — and their allies in Congress — aren’t interested in finding common ground. More than 40 years after Roe v. Wade instituted a no-limits abortion regime upheld by the federal courts and protected by Democratic officeholders at every level, its supporters have everything to lose and nothing to gain through compromise.

The American people are ready for a real national debate about abortion. The pro-life movement welcomes the opportunity.

And so they vilify and obfuscate. Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards exploits a heinous murder by a madman in Colorado Springs to attack a movement dedicated to protecting unborn babies and their mothers as “hateful” and “un-American” and equates peaceful protests with domestic terrorism. The abortion lobby spends millions to peddle the lie that women won’t be able to get the birth control they can find at every neighborhood drugstore unless Planned Parenthood gets half a billion dollars per year in taxpayer funding. Until called out on it by Representative Mia Love, Planned Parenthood tried to distract from the fact that it is a multimillion dollar abortion business by falsely claiming it provided mammograms.

#related#The American people are ready for a real national debate about abortion. The pro-life movement welcomes the opportunity. In Congress and on the campaign trail, pro-life political leaders have, with conviction and civility, made the case in favor of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act and against taxpayer subsidies for the abortion industry.

But the pro-abortion movement doesn’t want a debate on the substance. That’s because they can’t explain why the United States should be one of only seven countries in the world (including China and North Korea) where abortion is legal 20 weeks into a pregnancy; they have no way to explain how using less “crunchy” techniques to abort unborn babies to obtain their body parts isn’t barbaric; they have no answer to the question of whether there are any abortions up to the point of birth that they would not allow. They attack pro-lifers because they can’t defend their own positions. They don’t dare engage in the national debate on abortion that the American people want — they have too much to lose. But whether they want it or not, in Congress, in the courts, and at the ballot box, the debate is well underway.

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