John McCain, Republicans Shouldn’t Run From Pro-Life Issues in November

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 25, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

John McCain, Republicans Shouldn’t Run From Pro-Life Issues in November

RSS Newsfeed Email article
Add to My Yahoo! Printer friendly

by Marjorie Dannenfelser
June 25
, 2008 Note: Marjorie Dannenfelser is the president of the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life political group working to elect pro-life candidates to Congress and state offices. Opinion and editorial articles like this one do not necessarily reflect the views of

Imagine you are the Karl Rove for your very own Republican candidate. Say you have stumbled upon a position your candidate holds that garners 68 percent-plus support in public opinion polls. The issue polls best among women and young people – often tough nuts for the GOP to crack.

Say you noticed Democrats getting wise to the popularity of the issue and are running and winning campaigns that include it in their election platforms. You notice that your candidate’s own Democrat opponent, however, takes the 32 percent or less stance.

Further, you learn that the election your guy is running in will be decisive in determining the fate of the popular issue. Happy Day! You’ve got contrast. You’ve got a salient, winning issue around which you can organize a part of a winning coalition of voters.

What do you do? Communicate enthusiastically about it to that 70 percent majority that shares your view? Then encourage them to vote for your guy so to advance the cause?

Or pray that the issue would just go away? Proclaim it "dead" or lacking in intensity, hoping that it is so far from "top of mind" that your potential like-minded voters forget the issue is in play?

Inside the Washington D.C. beltway, the obvious gets murky when the unsettling abortion issue comes up.

When the issue is the resounding consensus that exists on abortion and the decisive role that the make-up of the Senate and Supreme Court will play in the future of it, Republican advisers favor the latter line of thinking.

Ignore or bury the consensus that consists of vast majorities in favor of parental notification for minors’ abortions, and bans on sex selection, late-term, taxpayer-funded and partial-birth abortions. The advice of most: make and keep it back-burner.

Take the conservative Republican Study Committee’s release of its eight-point agenda this month.

Buried in a subsection under Parental Rights, the abortion issue gets one mention on the subject of parental notification. "Top strategists" say, this issue may have been a burning one in 2004 that helped usher in a conservative president, Senate and House, but this year those folks aren’t concerned about it.

The Reagan Revolution was launched off the proverbial strong defense, traditional values and fiscal conservative "three-legged-stool." Reagan and then George W. Bush in 2004 helped all those factions come together and respect each other enough to build a winning coalition.

Where did those values voters go? Did they stop caring? Did they suddenly change their views? No, they have not. And "they" have grown in number.

However, if you will the winning issue to go away, bury it and refrain from speaking of it, the issue certainly will fade in intensity and in voters’ minds. If you continually say it is a back-burner issue and fail to raise it as a legislative priority, it might die. My question is, why would you want to?

The Supreme Court created an untenable position for the millions of American citizens who are increasingly troubled over the morality of unrestricted abortion. It took away their ability to enact reasonable restrictions on acts they find deeply objectionable. The court created social tension.

Unwittingly, it created the civil rights movement for its youngest citizens. The marching in the streets will not stop until the courts allow legislators to enact their constituents’ will into law. This year’s election results will determine the balance of the Supreme Court. This balance will determine the fate of the 68 percent-plus support for abortion issues.

Further, for the voters who support such common-ground measures and who also grieve over the deaths of the rest of the almost 4,000 unborn children of all stages dying before birth every single day, intensity exists. Sonograms tell the story: It is a matter of life and death.

So it trumps every other issue. And for those who only support the 68 percent-plus common ground abortion issues, intensity could exist. Effective and responsible communication can create it. Then, like in 2004, voters will respond to the fact that an issue about which they care deeply is on the line.

In the debate over restrictions on abortion, Americans have arrived at a consensus. Included in this is majority support for bans on abortions without parental consent, taxpayer-funded abortions, partial-birth abortions and late-term abortions. Within some states, the consensus would restrict it further.

Democratic strategists have leveraged this consensus in key races in congressional districts across the nation in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Indiana, and most recently, Louisiana and Mississippi.

If some Republican insiders lack in agreement or comfort level on the abortion issue, they should at least see and encourage the issue’s Machiavellian advantage with voters from the district to the presidential level.

Sign Up for Free Pro-Life News From

Daily Pro-Life News Report Twice-Weekly Pro-Life
News Report
Receive a free daily email report from with the latest pro-life news stories on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here. Receive a free twice-weekly email report with the latest pro-life news headlines on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here.