By Dave Andrusko
I was literally just watching a clip from “Up with Steve [Kornack],” a typical MSNBC agit-prop program, when the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute issued a report titled, “More State Abortion Restrictions Were Enacted in 2011–2013 Than in the Entire Previous Decade.” That came a few hours after I viewed a portion of a Fox News program in which syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer made a particularly astute observation.
Taken together what do these three items tell us about the state of the abortion battle as we begin 2014? Let me offer three conclusions:
#1. Without fail, the Guttmacher Institute habitually plays Chicken Little. The sky is ALWAYS falling. (In the months ahead I expect it to up the rhetorical ante. We’ll hear assertions that the legislative equivalent of a meteor shower has struck the earth.)
But that does not mean that for all its manufactured hysteria Guttmacher (the former research arm of Planned Parenthood) isn’t on to something.
Our numbers and their numbers never jive for many reasons, including that they count bills that are not in our single-issue purview. Having said that here’s Guttmacher’s summary lead:
“Reproductive health and rights were once again the subject of extensive debate in state capitols in 2013. Over the course of the year, 39 states enacted 141 provisions related to reproductive health and rights. Half of these new provisions, 70 in 22 states, sought to restrict access to abortion services.
“In sharp contrast to this barrage of abortion restrictions, a handful of states adopted measures designed to expand access to reproductive health services.”
More specifically, Guttmacher concludes
“Twenty-two states enacted 70 abortion restrictions during 2013. This makes 2013 second only to 2011 in the number of new abortion restrictions enacted in a single year. To put recent trends in even sharper relief, 205 abortion restrictions were enacted over the past three years (2011–2013), but just 189 were enacted during the entire previous decade (2001–2010).”
Translating their preferred idiom into English, Guttmacher is correct that over the last three years a lot of “abortion restrictions” were designed: to make sure abortion clinics met minimal standards; to make it possible to opt-out of paying for abortions through the new health “exchanges” required by ObamaCare; to protect unborn children who are capable of experiencing pain from experiencing the excruciating pain when subjected to typical late abortion procedures; and to require that abortionists are in the same room as pregnant women when they receive the two-drugs that make up the RU486 chemical abortion technique.
#2. The three-member “Up with Steve” panel included two hard-core pro-abortionists– Kelly Baden of the Center for Reproductive Rights and Irin Carmon of MSNBC.com–and Jackie Kucinich of the Washington Post. Opinion ran the gamut from A to B.
To his partial-credit, Kornack brought up the amazing turnaround in self-identification. In 1996 a whopping 56% identified as pro-choice compared to 33% who identified as pro-life, according to Gallup. By 2013, there were more self-identified pro-lifers (48%) than pro-choicers (45%.)
He also pointed out support for limitations on abortions after 20 weeks and even more for a limitation on abortion after 24 weeks.
But, to redeem himself, Kornack asked if this didn’t just reflect “anti-abortionists” being able to sell a “label.”
Carmon and Baden, of course, agreed. The irony is that Baden argued the more that you can talk to people about abortion, the more they come down on her side. The exact opposite is true, and never more so when you ask people under what conditions they would allow abortion. The more specific you are, the more you find (or, actually as Gallup finds) that a majority of the population opposes the reasons over 90% of all abortions are performed.
They collectively consoled themselves with the reassuring thought that pro-lifer legislators had overshot the mark and that the public would think twice when they vote this year.
#3. While Charles Krauthammer is not a pro-lifer, he does understand that the abortion “liberty” is wildly out of hand. Here’s what he said on Fox News, on a panel talking about the 2013 top stories (besides ObamaCare). His initial comment was the “remarkable changes in social attitudes — generally speaking, libertarians.” Except…
“KRAUTHAMMER: [T]here is one exception here, which I think is the story of the year, culturally, which is the opposite has happened on abortion. And in part because of the Gosnell trial [in which the Philadelphia abortionist was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder and one count of involuntary manslaughter]
“The fact that people are becoming aware of how late-term abortions are so near to infanticide. And also how the new technology and the ultrasounds are giving people awareness of how much an infant has developed in the womb. So, and with everything else heading left on this issue, the movement has stopped and I think reversed, especially among young people. It is an extremely interesting and unusual set of developments.”
Our “Up with Steve” panel would have you believe that pro-lifers continued to take huge strides forward in 2013 because we had snookered the public, or (as one panelist vaguely suggested) people only think they know what they think.
We moved forward so much for the same reason we will in the years to come. The American people are looking at abortion more carefully—thanks in large part to the work of NRLC and its 50 state affiliates—and they do not like what they see.
(See also “Pro-lifers extremely active at state level in 2013.”)