Ever since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, the issue of abortion has sharply divided our nation.
Over the past few months, the issue has taken on even greater national prominence because of policies under consideration in various states.
Roe v. Wade confirmed the right to an abortion in the U.S., but the Supreme Court decision also allowed for restrictions on abortion at the state level. However, it specifically preserved the “life or health of the mother” exception.
Democrats have positioned themselves well outside the mainstream on the abortion issue.
In Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam expressed support for legislation that would allow babies who survived an abortion to be killed outside the womb.
“If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother,” he specifically said.
Resuscitate the infant only “if that’s what the mother and the family desired’?
That’s infanticide, pure and simple.
Democratic front-runner former Vice President Joseph R. Biden recently reversed his support for the Hyde Amendment, which prevents the use of taxpayer dollars to fund abortions. The Hyde Amendment has always had bipartisan support in Congress.
More recently, every major Democratic presidential candidate has said they support abortion through the third trimester, which is a truly barbaric practice.
How rare are late-term abortions, considered to be 21 weeks or later?
In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that there were about 8,300 third trimester abortions, totaling about 1.3% of all abortions. Eight thousand deaths in one year is not insignificant.
It is easy to illustrate the division across the country on the issue of abortion.
The Gallup Poll says its national polling through last year found 48% of the country calling itself “pro life” and 48 % calling itself “pro choice.”
But most Americans reject extreme positions on both sides of the issue.
In May 2018, the Gallup Poll found that 81% support making abortion illegal in the third trimester. However, that same poll found that 60% supported allowing abortion in the first trimester.
There has been significant discussion of the rape and incest exceptions.
The same Gallup Poll found that 77% support the rape and incest exceptions in the first trimester, but only 42% support them in the third trimester.
Republicans are advancing aggressive pro-life legislation in two southern states.
Alabama recently enacted a law that makes performing an abortion a felony unless the pregnancy “seriously” risks the mother’s health.
Missouri passed a ban on abortion after eight weeks.
“Heartbeat bills” that would outlaw abortion once a baby’s heartbeat can be detected have passed in Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio.
It is not clear when the Supreme Court will truly reconsider the Roe v. Wade decision.
The Alabama law may test that legal precedent.
The political reality is that most Americans are in the middle on the issue of abortion, rejecting extreme positions on either side.
To gain politically, the Republican Party should unify around the issue and make Democrats own their extreme position of abortion on demand.
Pro-life Democrats no longer exist. Conversely, there are two pro-choice Republicans in the Senate.
Democrats are far more extreme on abortion, and Republicans can gain ground if they stake out a reasonable position on the issue.
Matt Mackowiak is president of Austin, Texas, and Washington, D.C.-based Potomac Strategy Group. He’s a Republican consultant, a Bush administration and Bush-Cheney reelection campaign veteran and former press secretary to two U.S. senators.
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