Abortion doesn’t need to be a losing issue for Republicans. Here’s what they should say.
Some in the Republican Party, or at least in the consultant class, need a refresher course in remedial politics, especially when it comes to the abortion issue. Protecting life in law and in service, while opposing abortion, is a winning position, despite what the consultant class thinks.
For bad advice on defending life, look no further than the Republican strategists who told Rolling Stone recently that they are “advising their candidates to talk as little as possible about GOP abortion proposals at this time.” The strategists, according to the magazine, “are hoping anti-abortion voters won’t notice or won’t care.”
Pro-life Americans won’t care if Republicans refuse to address abortion as long as Republicans don’t care if we keep our votes and volunteer hours to ourselves. The traditional constituency of the GOP is made up of social, economic and national defense conservatives. But when’s the last time you saw a flat-tax advocate door knocking?
Not only has the pro-life position historically provided more voter enthusiasm, it remains a core distinction between the two parties, for those with the skill and fearlessness to make the case. Here’s how they can do so:
When asked about abortion, articulate a clear vision
Consider saying this: “I support protecting people, born and preborn, at every stage of life. I reject prejudice against people based on sex, race, age, stage of development, level of income, perceptions of their abilities or the events of their conception. I reject shaming people for things out of their control and will work to replace abortion with a culture of life-affirming policies. An individual’s worth and life should never be dependent on whether another person values them.”
Next, define your opponent’s extremism, challenging them on where they draw the line on abortion
The contrast between a party trying to support mothers and their children (born and preborn) and a party that celebrates abortion all the way to infanticide is extreme. Ask your opponent, “Is there any abortion you wouldn’t welcome?”
Polling indicates that seven in 10 Americans support limits on abortion, and that includes 65 percent of Gen Z and Gen Y registered voters, as a poll conducted by Students for Life of America, which I lead, and YouGov showed earlier this year.
Then, explain what Democratic lawmakers have been pushing as the public rejects much of what the Democrats are selling, especially when it comes to chemical abortion pills, as our poll details.
Even if you support abortion, that’s not an argument for no-test online distribution of abortion pills, as championed by the Biden administration. Women are exposed to injury, infertility, death and abusers to facilitate a quick sale that benefits the abortion industry.
Through support of the deceptively named Women’s Health Protection Act, many Democrats promote abortion through all nine months of pregnancy and handing the federal government the right to attack state’s rights and conscience rights.
When asked why abortion is a losing issue, ask just what track record they are looking at
Consider Florida, where a blue state turned red, as leaders like Gov. Ron DeSantis campaigned for protections for unborn life early in pregnancy, winning a historic victory. In the 2022 midterms, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) talked about the humanity of children no matter how they are conceived, and triumphed.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed the Heartbeat Abortion Prevention Act into law in 2019 and ran away with the election as his opponent, Stacey Abrams, tried to build a movement on more abortion. J.D. Vance knew his take on life, held firm and won a Senate seat in Ohio.
It was something that Dr. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania should have tried, as getting a straight answer from him on abortion was like consulting a Magic 8 ball — vague and unhelpful to voters.
Such messaging issues were also the problem with the ballot initiatives when muddled messaging and financial disadvantage led to defeat. Confusion always benefits the bold, and abortion supporters painted a clear picture of what they wanted with cash.
When told voters don’t want to see protections for unborn infants earlier in pregnancy, point to a winning record
The momentum for protecting life is on the side of early protections, specifically heartbeat abortion prevention legislation, which limits abortion when the universal sign of life, a heartbeat, is detected, and polls well. In signing heartbeat legislation, DeSantis has set the new standard in the political race to come.
A poll we commissioned found that more than half of Millennials and Gen Z said they would support a limit on abortion when a heartbeat is detected (52 percent to 48 percent).
Every election cycle features warnings to Republicans that they must abandon their support for life. But the GOP understands that without the support of the pro-life position, millions of their voters would not vote at all. Ultimately, when faced with dire predictions about impending losses, pro-life Republicans should note that the only real polls happen on Election Day.
Kristan Hawkins is president of Students for Life of America & Students for Life Action with more than 1,300 groups on educational campuses in all 50 states. Follow her @KristanHawkins or subscribe to her podcast, Explicitly Pro-Life.
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