The Corner

Politics & Policy

Doug Jones Has Always Been an Abortion Extremist

Doug Jones was always a pro-abortion zealot. He proved that conclusively on the Senate floor yesterday evening, when he voted against the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would’ve banned abortions performed after 20 weeks on the grounds that fetuses have the capacity to feel pain at that age.

During last year’s Alabama Senate election — after explosive, credible sexual-abuse claims emerged against Republican candidate Roy Moore late in the race — Jones was given an unexpected opening. For the first time in decades, it appeared that an Alabama Democrat had a chance to win statewide office.

As the gap between the candidates quickly narrowed, it came to light that Jones had, in a September interview, admitted to holding grotesquely extreme pro-choice views. He told MSNBC host Chuck Todd that he has always refused to support any abortion restrictions and would continue to do so if elected. From that interview:

Jones: I am a firm believer that a woman should have the freedom to choose what happens to her own body, and I’m going to stand up for that, and I’m going to make sure that that continues to happen. I want to make sure that as we go forward, people have access to contraception, they have access to the abortion that they might need, if that’s what they choose to do.

Todd: You wouldn’t be in favor of legislation that said “ban abortion after 20 weeks,” or something like that?

Jones: No, I’m not in favor of anything that is going to infringe on a woman’s right and her freedom to choose. That’s just the position that I’ve had for many years, it’s the position I continue to have.

Jones then added an intriguing final remark: “But I want to make sure people understand that once a baby is born, I’m going to be there for that child, that’s where I become a right-to-lifer.” The obvious implication of this parsing was that Jones supports abortion rights until the moment of birth.

This is not a moderate position, even less so for a politician hoping to represent Alabama, one of the most socially conservative states in the country. At the time of the interview, though, Jones surely didn’t expect the race to be competitive.

Once the revelations of Moore’s past sexual predation came to light, Jones’s campaign and supporters made a highly contrived effort to begin painting him as reasonable on abortion. In a November interview with AL.com, Jones made the following comment:

To be clear, I fully support a woman’s freedom to choose to what happens to her own body. . . . Having said that, the law for decades has been that late-term procedures are generally restricted except in the case of medical necessity. That’s what I support. I don’t see any changes in that. It is a personal decision.

Jones supporters latched onto this remark, insisting it was proof that he wasn’t really all that radical on abortion. If elected, they promised, he would vote like a center-left Democrat. He would support what has been “the law for decades” (never mind the fact that abortion laws vary from state to state and there exists no “general restriction” on late-term procedures).

When I wrote in NRO in November that Jones was an abortion extremist — pointing out that his attempt at moderation had no practical meaning and that his past comments proved he wasn’t moderate at all — many on the left insisted I was being unfair. An article in The New Yorker, for example, suggested that I exaggerated Jones’s stance on abortion to downplay the grievousness of alleged pedophilia.

It is worth noting that this entire, terrible episode proves once again how important it is to unite around credible candidates. Had the GOP not been divided by Steve Bannon and his hard-right faction, Moore — an unacceptable candidate even prior to the disgusting allegations against him — would never have been the Republican nominee, and Jones would never have had a prayer.

Regardless of Moore and his hideous behavior, Doug Jones was in November and remains now far outside the mainstream on abortion rights. Although a slight majority of Americans describe themselves as pro-choice, over three-quarters of them also support significant restrictions on abortion. According to recent polling data from Marist, two-thirds of Americans favor the 20-week abortion ban, including slight majorities of both Democrats and pro-choice voters, along with substantial majorities of women and independents.

The Left made a concerted effort to memory-hole Jones’s radical comments and obscure the fact that he would join the Senate as one of its most radically pro-abortion members. His vote yesterday proved his extremism was there all along. When Jones is up for re-election in 2020, that vote should be one Alabamans refuse to forget.

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