Nancy Pelosi Admits Abortion is a Losing Issue for Democrats: Talk Health Care Instead

National   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Nov 9, 2018   |   12:23PM   |   Washington, DC

A lengthy New York Times piece about the midterm election revealed an interesting strategy that helped Democrats win back the House: Don’t talk about abortion.

Democrats decided that abortion and the largest provider of it, Planned Parenthood, were failed talking points after President Donald Trump and pro-life Republicans won unexpected victories in 2016, according to the report.

Pro-abortion Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, potentially the next speaker of the House, reportedly urged Democrats to talk about “health care” instead of abortion – though abortion activists now seem to lump the two together, as if killing unborn babies is just another medical procedure.

It isn’t hard to understand why they took this strategy. Abortion is a highly contentious issue, even among Democrats, and “health care” sounds much better than advocating for the killing of unborn babies for any reason up to birth.

The report explains:

Nancy Pelosi did not want to talk about Planned Parenthood.

It was a meeting of House Democrats early in 2017, during Republicans’ drive that March to strike down the Affordable Care Act. Ms. Pelosi and her political lieutenants laid out their counterattack: Democrats would talk about pre-existing conditions and millions of people losing coverage. And they would talk about an “age tax” — a provision in the Obamacare replacement passed by the House, which would have allowed health insurers to widen the premium gap between younger and older customers.

Ms. Pelosi acknowledged it would require restraint from Democrats. In her own San Francisco district, she said, people wanted her to fight the health care battle over funding for Planned Parenthood and Medicaid. “Those things are in our DNA, but they are not in our talking points,” Ms. Pelosi became fond of saying, according to a close associate.

That narrow focus on health care and a few economic issues came to define the Democrats’ midterm campaign. It represented a wholesale rejection of Hillary Clinton’s failed strategy in the 2016 campaign, which focused on Mr. Trump’s fitness for office.

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In 2016, Clinton’s campaign worked closely with Planned Parenthood, which aborts more unborn babies than any other group in the U.S. She also advocated for late-term abortions and taxpayer-funded abortions, two widely unpopular issues with voters. These extreme pro-abortion positions are part of what may have cost her the election.

But make no mistake, Pelosi and most other Democrats still support abortion on demand and taxpayer-funded abortions. They just aren’t talking about it as openly.

Later, the report continued:

That judgment was backed up by a vast trove of research, collected by Democratic committees and super PACs through polling and focus groups. House Majority PAC, the caucus’s main super PAC, carried out two intensive research projects, studying right-of-center suburban voters and blue-collar whites who supported Mr. Trump. It concluded that only a message about health care and jobs could win over both groups. …

That strategy of restraint brought Democrats steady gains, as they made inroads into Republican territory in a series of special elections and off-year elections, winning an improbable Senate seat in Alabama late last year, then seizing a solid-red congressional district near Pittsburgh in March. The Democratic victor there, Conor Lamb, ran on a message about health care and economic fairness, and pledged never to support Ms. Pelosi for speaker.

The strategy apparently paid off, though not as much as Democrats hoped. They did regain control of the U.S. House in 2019, but pro-life Republicans won control of the U.S. Senate. The midterms were not the strong “blue wave” that Democrats wanted.

Pro-life leaders believe House Democrats will try to ram through a bill to force taxpayers to fund abortions next year — one of their party platform goals. Its success seems unlikely right now with a Republican president and pro-life Republican majority in the U.S. Senate. However, pro-life advocates must remain vigilant and continue to expose the Democrats’ extreme pro-abortion policies – even when they will not talk about it themselves.