Politics

Running from Abortion Issue Not a Winning Strategy for Pro-Life Candidates

By Karen Cross, NRL Political Director

Editor’s note. This appeared in the August issue of National Right to Life News. Please share with your pro-life family members and friends.

On August 2nd, abortion advocates and their allies in the media were successful in defeating a pro-life referendum in Kansas following a massive misinformation campaign bolstered by out-of-state spending and the unwavering support of a pro-abortion media.

Now, they are determined to use the result of the referendum as a scare tactic to spook pro-life candidates into backing away from the issue just as our movement is in a prime position, as a result of the Dobbs decision, to advance meaningful protections for unborn children and their mothers. But, if pro-life candidates want to win on this issue, running is not an option. 

Abortion advocates have worked hard to center the discussion about “abortion” around anything but abortion. They have talked about ectopic pregnancies, contraception, miscarriage, in vitro fertilization, and even same-sex marriage. These issues are mentioned intentionally to distract from the extreme reality of the pro-abortion position. They support abortion on demand for any reason, right up to the moment of birth, with no parental involvement for minors, and all funded with taxpayer dollars.  

Abortion advocates have also spread misinformation about pro-life legislation, claiming that the pro-life movement wants to prosecute or punish women who have abortions. Earlier this year, over 70 pro-life organizations signed a statement from National Right to Life opposing criminal penalties for women who have abortions. 

Additionally, pro-life legislation allows the treatment of miscarriages, the removal of ectopic pregnancies, and other procedures to save the life of the mother.

When pro-life candidates try to hide from the issue, they give their opposition the opportunity to write the narrative about the pro-life candidate’s position. Instead, pro-lifers can gain the upper hand by embracing the issue and speaking clearly to voters about the commonsense protections for unborn children and their mothers that they support. 

It is not extreme to support protecting unborn babies when science shows they can feel pain. Or when their heartbeats are detectable. It is not extreme to support parents being notified or giving consent before their minor daughter can get an abortion. It is not extreme to oppose our hard-earned dollars being used by the government to pay for abortion on demand. It is not extreme to support greater resources for mothers and children in need through the nationwide network of pregnancy resource centers.  

The pro-abortion position is the one that is extreme and the one that is out-of-touch with American voters. A 2022 Marist Poll found that 71% of Americans support some limits on abortion, 54% of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortion, and an astounding 81% believe that laws can protect both mother and child. A Wall Street Journal poll found 48% support protecting unborn children at 15 weeks, which was the measure at the center of the Dobbs case, versus 43% who oppose.

There is a reason that pro-abortion movement wants to talk about anything else besides abortion itself. They are in the untenable position of having to defend unborn babies being dismembered, poisoned, or suctioned out of their mother’s womb at any point in pregnancy and for any reason. They do not want the reality of abortion, what every abortion does to an unborn baby, to be the center of the conversation. 

But, if pro-life candidates are willing to accept the pro-abortion movement’s tangential parameters of the debate and allow abortion advocates to write the narrative about their positions, they will turn a winning issue into a losing one. 

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