The GOP is playing offense on abortion — and they’re winning
When the Supreme Court issued its final opinion on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization on June 24, 2022, political analysts everywhere predicted Republicans were doomed in November. Despite record-high inflation, rising gas prices and skyrocketing crime, abortion — they said — would be a leading issue for voters and turn what should have been a red wave into an opportunity for Democrats. Hopes of a Republican majority were gone.
Over the summer, leftist groups spent millions hammering Republican candidates over the issue. Advertisements on television and on digital platforms accused the GOP of being “extreme” on the issue, warning of new abortion restrictions if Republicans are elected to a majority in the U.S. House and Senate. For a short period of time, the abortion attacks appeared to be working and showed up in polling as favorable to Democrats. At the time, most Republican candidates were ignoring the issue, hoping it would simply go away.
But in the final months and weeks leading up to Election Day, Republicans have gone on the offensive by refusing to accept the label of extreme on the issue. They’ve been able to turn the argument around and expose that it isn’t Republicans who are extreme on abortion, but rather the Democrats.
When asked by reporters about the issue, Republicans have been able to provide specific details about abortion policy and limits on the procedure. After issuing a pro-life declaration, most arrive at the political consensus of a ban after 15 weeks with exceptions for rape, incest or health of the mother.
Democrats, however, give open-ended and broad answers about abortion being between a woman and her doctor. When asked about supporting any restrictions on a timeline, they repeat the line, meaning they support abortion until birth — a far cry from the 1990s slogan of “safe, legal and rare.”
On the campaign trail, not a single Democratic candidate running for national office will publicly support any restriction on abortion. This includes Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan, who is running for Senate in Ohio; gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.); Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who is running for governor; Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman who is running for Senate; and many more.
This position, championed as “mainstream” by most in media, is wildly out of step with the American people, and the data proves it. More importantly, it’s out of touch with women, including those who typically cast their ballots for Democrats.
According to a Harvard/Harris poll released in July, the vast majority of women believe abortion should be banned after 15-weeks, with many holding the view restrictions should come earlier in pregnancy. The poll was the largest survey on the issue since the Dobbs decision a few weeks earlier.
“A poll conducted after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade found that 72 percent of Americans would allow abortion only until the 15th week of pregnancy or a more restrictive law. That transcends party affiliation. Even 60 percent of Democrats believe abortion should be prohibited after the 15th week or a more restrictive law,” George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley wrote at the time about the findings. “That is also consistent with most other countries. Internationally, only seven countries allow abortion after the 20th week. Notably, 75 percent of women support the 15-week cut-off or a more restrictive law while 69 percent of men also agree with that timeline.”
While inflation, the economy and crime will take precedent as top issues for voters this cycle, Republicans leaning into their pro-life positions isn’t ruining them at the polls. In fact, it’s motivating their base voters to show up.
“What our poll is showing is that the pro-life people are more motivated by the abortion issue to vote in these midterms than the pro-choice people are,” former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said about a recent ABC News poll during a “This Week” panel discussion.
Republicans aren’t getting ahead before Election Day simply because voter focus is on other issues. It’s also because they have good answers to questions and responses to false attacks of “extremism” on abortion. The standard Democrats hold for abortion in America is one only found in China and North Korea, both egregious human rights abusers. On the contrary, Republicans widely have a position in line with the Western world of rare abortion with restrictions. What was once counted as an issue that would sink GOP chances has been successfully diffused.
Pavlich is the editor for Townhall.com and a Fox News contributor.
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