Democrats in the U.S. Senate who face the prospects of tough re-election battles in 2014 are finally taking a position on the bill to ban late-term abortions after five months of pregnancy. They are opposing the measure — putting them at odds with a majority of Americans who support it.
As John McCormack from the Weekly Standard reports:
While walking between meetings and votes on July 16 and July 18 in the Capitol, the four red-state Democratic senators seeking reelection in 2014 commented on the proposed national late-term abortion limit for the first time, to The Weekly Standard. Both Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mark Begich of Alaska said they would vote against the House bill if it comes up for a vote in the Senate.
“I always wait to see legislation, to see exactly what it says, but I would oppose that,” Hagan told me. “Yes,” Begich replied when asked if he’d vote against the bill banning late-term abortions except in the cases of rape, incest, or when a health problem endangers the mother’s life. “I’m pro-choice,” he said.
But Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, two Democrats who voted for the 2003 partial-birth abortion ban, said they didn’t know how they would vote. “I’ll have to look at it. I haven’t focused on it,” Pryor told me.
“I’m going to look at it. I’ve voted to end late-term abortions,” Landrieu said, referring to her vote for the partial-birth abortion ban.
“I do support, you know, the current constitutional outline which provides for decisions to be made which are very private in, you know, the early stages of pregnancy,” Landrieu continued. “So I’m going to have to look at that bill and make a decision. I’ve opposed late-term abortion, but 20 weeks is midterm.”
Self-identified pro-life Democratic senators Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Joe Donnelly of Indiana didn’t say how they’d vote. North Dakota senator Heidi Heitkamp said during the 2012 campaign that she believes “late-term abortions should be illegal except when necessary to save the life of the mother,” but she too declined to take a position on the House bill.
Senate Democratic leaders have sent conflicting messages about whether they will allow a vote on a late-term abortion bill, and a Senate version of the House bill hasn’t been introduced yet. But if it does come up for a vote, it will force senators like Pryor and Landrieu to make a tough choice: Vote “yes” and anger the most powerful Democratic interest group or vote “no” and put themselves at odds with a clear majority of voters.
These Democrats could be putting their political futures in jeopardy — since polling data shows not only Americans support the 20-week abortion ban but they support it at a very high clip.
A new Washington Post poll shows Americans support a late-term abortion ban prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy by a margin of 56 to 27 percent. Just 27 percent of those polled by the newspaper say they oppose banning late-term abortions — a position taken by President Barack Obama and Planned Parenthood and these Democrats.
The Washington Post poll results mirror the results of a Huffington Post poll this month.
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The new poll conducted for the liberal Huffington Post find Americans support the ban on late-term abortions starting at 20-weeks of pregnancy by almost a 2-1 margin.
“By a margin of 59 percent to 30 percent, respondents to the new poll said they would favor a federal law banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy,” HuffPo reported about its poll.
A recent national poll by The Polling Company found that, after being informed that there is scientific evidence that unborn children are capable of feeling pain at least by 20 weeks, 64% would support a law banning abortion after 20 weeks, unless the mother’s life was in danger. Only 30% said they would oppose such a law.
A National Journal poll also found more Americans supporting the 20-week abortion ban than opposing it.