Republicans do not need to “moderate” our position on abortion, nor do we need to become pro-choice in order to reach out to women voters. We hear this canard after every election, even after the huge red tide in 2010 that saw Republicans not only take the U.S. House of Representatives, but also state legislatures and governors. After all, winning elections nationwide is a sure sign of a party in trouble!
The theory that our position on abortion is hurting us with women assumes that there are either no pro-life women (which much of the rhetoric on this issue would lead you to believe) or that the number of pro-life women is very small. That is simply not the case. National Review pointed out in August that a Gallup poll found that women are narrowly pro-life by a margin of 46% to 44%. That may not be a majority, but it is a plurality. Furthermore, there is a consistent overall pro-life majority in the Gallup poll on the issue.
In fact, over 50% consistently say that abortion should be legal only “under certain circumstances” – a position that is certainly opposed to the radical abortion-on-demand philosophy of the Democratic Party. In fact, depending on what those “certain circumstances” are, many of those likely hold an effectively pro-life position.
There were two problems that abortion presented for us in 2012.
First, we failed to articulate our position on the issue. One US Senate candidate lost after an anti-factual and unscientific statement on abortion and rape, for which he was pounded relentlessly for months. Another candidate lost after bringing predestination theology into the debate, which most voters are not spiritually discerning enough to understand. (He was defeated by a Democrat who campaigned as a “pro-life” candidate.) Yet another candidate showed he was intellectually incapable of explaining himself on the issue.
Second, our presidential candidate was wishy-washy. Mitt Romney went out of his way to describe himself as a “moderate” opponent of abortion, emphasizing his support for exceptions. Romney also failed to attack Obama for his pro-abortion extremism. If the Republican establishment thought Obama’s defense of infanticide was played out (it wasn’t, by the way) they could have ripped into him for forcing Christian organizations to fund abortifacient drugs.
Meanwhile, Obama exploited Romney’s wishy-washy stance by making his pro-abortion position clear in no uncertain terms. The contrast between the Democrats’ position and the Republicans’ wishy-washy position was striking.
We are a pro-life country, overall. Much of this is due to improved medical technology that has been exploited by anti-abortion organizations. We may not be ready for an immediate national ban on abortion (though banning it incrementally is certainly politically possible) but the American people are far closer to the Republicans than the unhinged extremism of Barack Obama and the Democrats.