What every pro-life candidate needs to know about abortion

By Karen Cross, NRL Political Director

You’re running for Congress! Congratulations! Undoubtedly, you’re going to be asked about your position on abortion by a constituent, in a debate, or by the media.

Are you prepared for the inevitable question? Or do you feel like a deer caught in the headlights?

Following are a few pointers to help you on your way to a successful campaign.

There’s an Advantage to being a Pro-life Candidate

Post-election polling conducted by National Right to Life in election after election since 1980 consistently finds that pro-life candidates enjoy a significant advantage over their pro-abortion opponents on the abortion issue. In the last presidential election cycle, a post-election poll taken in November 2020 found that 41% said abortion affected the way they voted. Of that 41%, 23% said they voted for candidates who oppose abortion compared to just 18% who voted for candidates who favor abortion—a 5-point advantage.

For additional information about the pro-life advantage, go to: https://www.nrlvictoryfund.org/latest/polling-shows-impact-of-abortion-in-2020-election/

Abortion/Roe v. Wade

Keep in mind that many people don’t understand some of the basics about abortion or what the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision actually did. If asked about their position on abortion, some people self-ID as “pro-choice” because they believe abortion should be available in the hard cases: the life of the mother, rape, incest, and fetal anomalies*. [See below for a fuller explanation.]

What they don’t understand is that Roe v. Wade, along with its companion decision Doe v. Bolton, essentially allows for abortion on demand throughout pregnancy. They also don’t understand that 93% to 97% of the nearly 900,000 abortions that take place in the United States every year are for social reasons: the woman doesn’t feel prepared to have a baby, can’t afford the baby or doesn’t feel she has support at home. 

For more information on the reasons cited for abortion, go to: http://www.nrlc.org/uploads/factsheets/FS08Reasons.pdf.

So, what happens? The hard cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother are brought up by your opponents (and the biased media) because they carry so much emotional weight. The goal is to prey on the fears of the general public, who don’t know the facts.

The Hard Cases

There are answers to the powerful emotional responses these cases evoke. 

  • To begin with, and most fundamentally, the circumstances surrounding the baby’s conception change nothing about the humanity of the unborn baby, the toll taken on the mother, and the inherent brutality of abortion.
  • Rape (and incest) are brutal acts of violence against innocent women. A woman who has experienced such a horrible act of violence deserves to be treated with compassion. However, encouraging abortion (an act of brutal violence against her innocent preborn child) is pitting the woman against her own child. It can compound the violence of the rape, making her the aggressor in this case, and greatly increasing the potential for psychological and emotional harm to the woman.

Whatever the circumstances of her pregnancy, each woman deserves support and proper care to prevent more harm being done emotionally or physically. Sadly, many women suffer physical and psychological risks after their abortions.

For information about the physical, emotional and psychological risks after abortion, go to: http://www.nrlc.org/uploads/factsheets/FS07AbortionPsychoSocial.pdf and http://www.nrlc.org/uploads/factsheets/FS06AbortionPhsysicalComplications.pdf.

There are more than 3,000 pregnancy-help centers across the country offering life-affirming help free of charge to mothers in crisis. They offer truly compassionate solutions for both mother and her child.

Some people – and even doctors – suggest abortion when the baby has some sort of fetal anomaly. If I were a candidate, and asked my position, this would be my response:

“It sounds to me like you are prejudiced against people with disabilities! You are saying that those with disabilities are better off being brutally, painfully ripped apart in the womb than living with their disability? That’s terrible!”

I’d then share my magical nights as a volunteer with Special Olympics, where I’ve experienced unconditional acceptance and unbelievable joy.

  • In cases where the prognosis is that the baby will inevitably die before or soon after birth, the baby doesn’t need to be killed. The families will benefit greatly from perinatal hospice – a life-affirming and healing response to families in need.

Babies with or without disabilities feel pain during abortion by 20 weeks, and even earlier. For more information, go to http://www.nrlc.org/uploads/factsheets/FS20UnbornPain.pdf and https://www.nrlc.org/abortion/fetalpain/.

For more details discussing the hard cases, go to http://www.nrlc.org/uploads/WhenTheySayPacket.pdf.

For information about perinatal hospice, go to https://www.nationalrighttolifenews.org/2016/04/perinatal-hospice-offers-alternative-to-abortion-in-cases-of-babies-unlikely-to-live-long-after-birth/.

Taxpayer Funding of Abortion

Most people – even those who consider themselves “pro-choice” – don’t support using tax dollars for abortion. According to a 2020 Marist poll, “Six in 10 Americans (60%) also oppose domestic taxpayer funding of abortion. This includes 89% of those who identify as pro-life, and 37% of those who identify as pro-choice.”

There’s a lot of misinformation about taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider. Planned Parenthood receives more than $1 million dollars a day of government funds under the guise that they are providing “healthcare for women.” But when the government again made clear that Title X family planning money recipients could not provide abortions or refer patients for abortion, Planned Parenthood opted out.

When polled and asked the question whether the government should defund Planned Parenthood, many people – even some pro-lifers – say no, because of the false perception that they would be denying healthcare to women. Yet, in the same conversation, with the same people, when asked if the government should fund abortion providers, a majority say no. Clearly many people are unaware of PPFA’s deep involvement in abortion.

So, if I were a candidate and was asked if I would defund Planned Parenthood, I would answer:

“I don’t believe our tax dollars should go to abortion providers. Instead, we should take the hundreds of millions of dollars that go to abortion providers and redirect that money to the local community health care clinics that are providing real health care to families, closer to home.”

Advocates of Planned Parenthood claim that “not one dime of that money is used for abortion,” yet Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of abortion and money is fungible. Those millions of dollars build more buildings, hire more staff, do more advertising, and more little girls walk through their doors. And when those girls do walk through their doors for an abortion, our tax dollars don’t pay for it, the girl pays for the abortion, or their boyfriend or aunt or someone else pays for it.

Unsurprisingly, over the years, as Planned Parenthood has received more tax dollars, the numbers of abortions they commit have increased, even though nationally the abortion numbers have decreased significantly.

Meanwhile the number of genuine health care services they do provide continues to diminish. According to PPFA’s most recent annual report, the number of cancer screenings and prevention services they perform has actually decreased by 70%! Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms and it’s rare to find one that provides prenatal care! 

Remember the motto, “When you think of Planned Parenthood, think abortion.” Anytime Planned Parenthood is discussed, be sure to link them to abortion.

For more information about Planned Parenthood and abortion, go to: https://www.nationalrighttolifenews.org/2020/01/planned-parenthoods-recent-annual-report-shows-big-increase-in-abortion-and-taxpayer-funding/ and https://www.nrlc.org/abortion/plannedparenthood/.

Being Pro-life is NOT Extreme

Finally, your pro-life position is NOT extreme. If your opponent supports abortion on demand through birth and wants taxpayers to pay for it, he or she is the extreme candidate – not you.

In fact, according to a February 2019 Marist poll, only 22% of Democrats, 10% of Independents, and 4% of Republicans supported the New York-style abortion on demand through birth and beyond policy. Actually 64% of Democrats, 92% of Republicans and 83% of Independents supported limits on abortion.

When your pro-abortion opponent attempts to paint you as extreme on abortion, be sure to point out their extreme position of abortion–through-birth and using your tax dollars to pay for them.

So be prepared, stay calm, and be proudly pro-life. It’s a winning issue.

For an overview of the state of abortion in the United States, go to: www.nrlc.org/uploads/communications/stateofabortion2020.pdf.

**National Right to Life’s position is that abortion should only be allowed if it is necessary to prevent the death of the mother.