Law & the Courts

Democrats Focus on Abortion in Barrett Hearing at Their Peril

Judge Amy Coney Barrett attends a meeting with Senator Kevin Cramer (R., N.D.) on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., October 1, 2020. (Erin Scott/Reuters)
Many modest pro-life laws are more popular than Senate Democrats themselves.

President Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court has pro-abortion Senate Democrats in a real quandary. Late last month, Senate minority whip Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) candidly admitted, “We can slow it down . . . but we can’t stop the outcome.” Yet their radical base — keyed up after months of pandering and hotheaded rhetoric, and still smarting from its failure to stop Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation — expects them to pull out all the stops.

They can’t fault Barrett’s qualifications, which are exceptional. They evidently have found nothing to assail in her character. Despite their media allies’ best efforts, painting an accomplished scholar and nominee for the nation’s highest court — who happens to be a mother of seven — as a cult-programmed, submissive character from a dystopian novel is obviously untrue and embarrassing. Worst yet, questioning her motives for adopting two children from Haiti is a mean-spirited strategy that risks turning off suburban moms.

Running out of options, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D,. N.Y.) issued instructions to pivot to discuss health care, health care, and more health care. But at least one senator — Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.) — seems to have missed the memo. For him and other extremists, it’s all about protecting abortion on demand at any time for any reason.

“This issue . . . is going to be a central focus of the hearing and a major point of contention in the confirmation process,” Blumenthal told media on Tuesday, citing 17 abortion-related cases working their way through the courts, any one of which the Supreme Court could opt to hear.

There’s one big problem: Many modest pro-life laws are more popular than Senate Democrats themselves.

According to a Marist poll earlier this year, 55 percent of Americans support banning late-term abortions after five months of pregnancy, a point by which science shows unborn children can feel pain. Legislation protecting babies has passed in 21 states. Seven in ten Americans would limit abortion to, at most, the first three months of pregnancy.

The same poll found that 60 percent of voters — including 35 percent of Democrats, 37 percent of self-described pro-choice voters, and 55 percent of independents — oppose taxpayer funding of abortion. 65 percent of Americans, including 50 percent of those who identify as pro-choice, oppose abortion because of the possibility an unborn child may have Down syndrome — a lethal form of discrimination.

When it comes to protecting babies who survive abortions — legislation such as the Born-Alive Survivors Protection Act, which is blocked by Democrats in both houses of Congress — public support surges to 77 percent.

All these laws are incompatible with our national status quo under Roe v. Wade. An illuminating fight over the brutal reality of abortion in America would be welcomed by pro-life Republicans and would not redound to Democrats’ advantage. Even Kamala Harris (D,. Calif.), a favorite of abortion giant Planned Parenthood, dodged the abortion question in Wednesday’s vice-presidential debate, while Mike Pence slammed her party for supporting abortion on demand through birth, paid for by taxpayers.

Even worse, she and Joe Biden steadfastly refuse to say where they stand on calls for packing the Supreme Court — nothing less than the destruction of the system of three coequal branches of government established by the Founders. In their case, no answer clearly is an answer.

Judge Barrett, for her part, is committed to fairness. During her nomination speech she stated, “A judge must apply the law as written. Judges are not policymakers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold.” Her record on the bench is consistent with that approach. She is respected by legal minds of varying persuasions and ideologies. Noah Feldman, a professor at Harvard Law School, notes that despite disagreeing with Judge Barrett “on almost everything . . . I know her to be a brilliant and conscientious lawyer who will analyze and decide cases in good faith, applying the jurisprudential principles to which she is committed.”

By insinuating that Barrett would impose her personal beliefs about abortion, simply because she is pro-life, Democrats simply usher their anti-Catholic bias through the back door. It is radically inconsistent with American values.

This clarity is a gift. Life is a winning issue and the Democrats’ abortion extremism is a losing one. They won’t win hearts, minds, and votes this way — but it’s helpful to be reminded of where their true priorities lie.

Marjorie Dannenfelser is president of the national pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List. She serves as national co-chair of the Pro-Life Voices for Trump coalition and is the author of "Life is Winning: Inside the Fight for Unborn Children and Their Mothers.”

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