By Dave Andrusko
It can be helpful to compare and contrast, even when the conflicting viewpoints are, on the one hand, a recipe for disaster, and, on the other hand, a reminder of how much the Republican Party stands to lose if it softens its staunchly pro-life position. Side by side they can tell us a lot.
The agenda of “pro-choice” Republicans run the gamut from arguing the party should be explicitly pro-choice to making them personally feel more comfortable (they like to say they’ve been forced to remain “in the closet”). The latter often is a variation of a call for a “truce” on the “social issues,” meaning a kind of neutrality in which the party abandons its pro-life platform and becomes a kind of Democratic Party-lite on abortion.
Why? We’re told because being the pro-life party hasn’t helped the Republican Party. (Never mind that a primary reason the Republican Party ceased being a permanent minority was the infusion of people who were drawn in by the GOP’s opposition to abortion.) Indeed, Mitt Romney didn’t even carry the Catholic vote!
What is the pro-life counter-argument? Well, it begins with a commitment to realism and ends with a reminder that what happened November 6 was a reflection not of the public’s new found embrace of abortion but of pro-abortion President Obama’s deftly run campaign and an election narrative that “defined the abortion issue in terms most disadvantageous to pro-life candidates,” in the words of NRLC Executive Director David N. O’Steen, Ph.D. “They were also aided by unfortunate and politically disastrous comments by some candidates who oppose abortion.”
This realism candidly notes that the advantage the pro-life Presidential candidate traditionally enjoys among voters who vote on the basis of abortion was only a single point in 2012. Again, why?
For several reasons: an increase in the pro-abortion vote; the overwhelming help of a media in the tank for Obama; and a serious misrepresentation both of the Republican Party platform plank of abortion and the position of Mitt Romney.
But most of all pro-abortionists were in Dr. O’Steen’s words “able to redefine in the public arena what pro-life and pro-choice mean and by being able to have their message amplified by vastly greater resources and a media eager to carry their message.” In a word, once Missouri senatorial candidate Todd Akin made his comments on rape and abortion, “from that point on for the media the abortion issue was ONLY about rape.”
As for Catholics, President Obama carried the Catholic vote because he carried almost the entire African-American vote and 73% of the Latino vote. Among white Catholics, Romney won Catholics 59% to 40%, an increase of 7% for the Republican candidate over 2008 when John McCain won 52% of white Catholics. Looking forward, why is this important?
Dr. O’Steen argued, “This increase may be due to the Obama Administration’s mandate that some Catholic and other religious institutions provide insurance coverage for items they find morally objectionable, as well as the very visible pro-abortion campaign for Obama.” Now that Obama does not need to worry about re-election, he no longer needs to pretend to be looking for an “accommodation,” and the level of antagonism between the Obama Administration and not just the Catholic community but other communities of faith, will likely increase exponentially.
So if abortion was not the reason Romney lost, any more than it was the bogus mantra about a “war on women” (although obviously that did not help), what about the polling data that shows more Americans now identify as “pro-choice”?
A May 2012 Gallup poll found that 50% identified themselves as pro-life and only 41% identified themselves as pro-choice. The Polling Company post election poll found 51% now identifying as pro-choice and 43% as pro-life. The Resurgent America post election poll found 49% identifying as pro-choice and 43% as pro-life.
Does it really make sense that in just a few months, a nine point pro-life advantage became a permanent 6 to 8 point disadvantage? Pro-abortionists successfully dictated what it meant to be “pro-life,” courtesy of virtually unlimited amounts of money, a legion of supportive media outlets, and the dreadfully insensitive remarks of two pro-life candidates.
It makes much more sense to believe that the self-identified pro-life numbers will bounce back, even more so in light of the underlying fact that Americans still oppose the reasons that almost all abortions are performed. As Dr. O’Steen wrote,
“Grouping the first three categories as pro-life [prohibit all abortions; only for life of mother; only for life of mother and in cases of rape and incest] and the next three as pro-choice [allow abortions first three months; first six months; for any reason at any time] you get 49% pro-life and 41% pro-choice with only 25% actually agreeing with what is essentially the current legal status of abortion. This is in the same poll in which respondents self identified as 51% pro-choice and 43% pro-life.”
Those who counsel the Republican Party to abandon its pro-life position act as if to do so is a win-win for the GOP, as if there is no downside. Really?
Sell out the party’s soul for a handful of people who would switch and there will be no repercussions? How about those tens of millions of pro-life Catholics and the pro-life Evangelical community, not to mention those of other faiths or no faith at all. And what about all those millions of Democrats who have “crossed over” to vote Republican precisely BECAUSE of the GOP’s pro-life position?
When you lose, as Republicans did in the race for President and in the United States Senate, and it is necessary to figure out why. But cutting off your nose to spite your face—essentially the advice of “pro-choice” Republicans—can only ensure that a temporary loss inflicts permanent structural damage.
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