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The Right Is Slowly Winning the War on Abortion

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Some people argue that Republicans need to steer clear of social issues to win elections. America, they say, is too “liberal” on abortion rights and gay rights, and we need to stick to fiscal issues if we want to expand our voter base.

But that’s not true. 

While it’s true that Americans generally support abortion rights, it’s not a simple issue without caveats. The abortion lobby is powerful, has deep pockets, and owns the Democratic Party, but they do not represent the mainstream on abortion issues. On the other hand, many commonsense pro-life positions have the support of the public. 

For example, the Mississippi law at issue in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. According to a new Wall Street Journal poll, a plurality of Americans supports such a restriction.

This is not surprising. Polling has shown for years that Americans support restrictions on abortion and that support for abortion decreases with each trimester. 

“Six in 10 U.S. adults think abortion should generally be legal in the first three months of pregnancy,” explains Gallup. “However, support drops by about half, to 28%, for abortions conducted in the second three months, and by half again, to 13%, in the final three months.”

Abortion statistics reflect these attitudes as well, Gallup observed. For example, while 89% of abortions occur within the first 12 weeks, only 1.3% are performed in the last 20 weeks.

So the only people crying foul about banning abortions after 15 weeks are the radical left—which also believes abortions should be free, that minors should be able to seek an abortion without parental consent, and abortion should be accessible up until the moment of birth. Fortunately, most Americans don’t share these views.

But Democrats don’t care about mainstream views; they care about the money they get from the abortion lobby—whose influence is so powerful that Joe Biden flip-flopped while running for president, after years of support for the Hyde Amendment, the popular law that bans taxpayer dollars from funding abortions.

Despite the influence of the abortion lobby on elected Democrats, many know that the voters don’t share its unbridled enthusiasm for it. 

On Saturday, The Washington Post noted that many Democrats are even shying away from using the word “abortion” when discussing the issue. “Many far-left liberals will say ‘abortion’ every time they talk about the issue, while some Democrats who will face competitive races in 2022 and 2024 — including the president — have rarely used it, relying instead on broader terms such as ‘reproductive freedom’ and ‘a constitutional right.'”

Abortion groups, however, like Planned Parenthood, the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), and Emily’s List, urged Democrats to embrace the word “abortion” and use it often to “destigmatize” it. These groups have long gotten past Bill Clinton’s former axiom that “Abortion should be safe, legal, and rare.” And since these are the groups with the Democratic Party in their pockets, it seems likely that they will continue to push Democrats further and further to the fringes of public opinion on the issue.

This means that with the right messaging, Republicans can effectively convince the public that they represent the mainstream on the issue of abortion.

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