The Corner

A Pro-Life Win in Alaska

The story got a little lost in the excitement of the primaries, but the pro-life movement made history on Tuesday night when voters in Alaska approved Ballot Measure 2, a parental-notice law, 55–45 percent. This marks the first time that the pro-life movement has used the citizen initiative to pass a parental-involvement law. (The other 29 parental-involvement laws currently in effect were all enacted through the legislative process.)

Pro-lifers haven’t historically had much success with initiative campaigns. Efforts to enact a parental-notice law in California in 2006 and 2008 both failed by narrow margins. In the late 1990s, attempts to use the citizen initiative to enact partial-birth abortion bans in Maine, Colorado, and Washington were also unsuccessful. One reason these attempts so often failed was that pro-lifers often have difficulty raising enough funds to run a credible campaign.

This year, pro-lifers in Maine faced similar obstacles. Many Planned Parenthood chapters from western states donated to Alaskans Against Government Mandates, which opposed the parental-notice law; as of late July, opponents of the measure had raised over $750,000. But the pro-lifers succeeded. There are a few reasons for this. First, the relatively low cost of media in Alaska might have made it easier for supporters of Ballot Measure 2 to overcome their financial disadvantage. Also, the contested Republican U.S. Senate primary might have increased turnout among pro-life voters.

Gains in pro-life public sentiment likely played a role as well. In May 2009, for the first time ever, a Gallup poll showed that a majority of respondents were willing to describe themselves as pro-life. That spring, a number of other polling organizations showed a substantial increase in the number of people either willing to identify themselves as pro-life or willing to support greater restrictions on abortion. Indeed, many of the previous efforts to enact pro-life laws through the initiative process failed by relatively narrow margins. As such, these recent gains in public support might have well produced the margin of victory for pro-lifers in Alaska on Tuesday.

Michael J. New is an assistant professor at the University of Alabama and a fellow at the Witherspoon Institute.

Michael J. New — Michael J. New is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Michigan–Dearborn and an associate scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute in Washington, D.C. He received a ...

Most Popular


Joy Reid Denies Writing Homophobic Blog Posts

MSNBC personality Joy Reid's former blog, The Reid Report, published a series of anti-gay posts, which she claims were added to the site after it was shut down, by a hacker intent on destroying her reputation and nascent cable-news career. Reid, who discontinued the blog roughly a decade ago, apologized in ... Read More

The Lure of Outsiderism

In a Wall Street Journal piece this weekend recounting his brief and harrowing recent experience at The Atlantic, Kevin Williamson ably notes a common pattern in this moment in our national life. Discussing a panel he attended at the chic South by Southwest conference, he writes: Which brings us back to that ... Read More

Monday Links

A Supercut of Epic Movie Explosions. Can You Solve These 10 Medieval Riddles? The cost to make a Margherita pizza: $1.77. How much restaurants charge on average for a pizza: $12. The actual costs of restaurant foods. Vintage animation lessons -- how to make things cute. London's "Great ... Read More

On Trade, No One Is Waiting for Washington

President Donald Trump’s flips and flops on trade are now as ubiquitous as his 5:00 a.m. tweets. Many predicted that trade-expansion efforts would come to a standstill and world commerce would suffer amidst all the uncertainty. Instead, the precise opposite has happened. In the last few months, it’s become ... Read More
National Security & Defense

Trump’s Syria Quandary

President Trump raised eyebrows recently when he ended a tweet lauding the airstrikes he’d ordered against chemical-weapons facilities in Syria with the words “mission accomplished.” The phrase, of course, became infamous in the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq, when President Bush used it in a speech ... Read More

Confirm Pompeo

What on earth are the Democrats doing? President Trump has nominated CIA director Mike Pompeo, eminently qualified by any reasonable standard, to be America’s 70th secretary of state. And yet the Senate Democrats, led by Chuck Schumer, have perverted the advice and consent clause of the Constitution into a ... Read More
PC Culture

The Dark Side of the Starbucks Stand-Down

By now the story is all over America. Earlier this month, two black men entered a Starbucks store in Philadelphia. They were apparently waiting for a friend before ordering — the kind of thing people do every day — and one of the men asked to use the restroom. A Starbucks employee refused, saying the restroom ... Read More