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The GOP Has a Winning Message on Abortion — If They Choose to Use It

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

For as long as I’ve been politically active, Democrats have had the upper hand when it comes to messaging. I’m not just talking about how the media supports them and pushes their agenda. I mean that they understand the public relations aspect of politics far better than Republicans. It’s because of this that they are routinely able to sell unpopular ideas to the masses.

There is perhaps no other issue that exemplifies this more than abortion. They’ve got their messaging down to a science. Democrats don’t call themselves “pro-abortion,” they call themselves “pro-choice.” It’s no accident that they use an ambiguous term that (in this context) implies bodily autonomy and freedom rather than using the actual word to describe what it is they are advocating for.

“Pro-choice” gets lumped with other misleading buzzphrases like “women’s rights,” and “reproductive healthcare,” which frame abortion as an expression of women’s equality and blurs the line between the right to kill a child and the right to have one. No matter how Democrats frame it, they always ignore the fact that abortion ends the life of a child.

There’s no use in denying that this messaging works for the pro-abortion movement.

But the truth is, it only works so well. For years, polls have shown that while Americans generally may support the right to an abortion, they also favor limits on it. If you try to get a straight answer from a Democrat about whether there should be any limits on abortion, you may find a few who will admit they believe there shouldn’t be any. However, most will avoid answering the question directly by giving ambiguous or evasive responses.

And that’s where the GOP should be jumping in.

According to a new Cygnal poll, 73.5% of registered voters want restrictions on abortion. A plurality of voters, 21%, say abortion should be limited to the first 15 weeks of gestation, with some exceptions; 19.1% say abortion should be illegal; 16.8% support a 12-week limit; and 16.6% say six weeks, or the moment a heartbeat is detected, should be the limit.

Related: We Can’t Compromise With the Democrats on Abortion

On the flip side, only 17.4% of voters support abortion being legal up until the moment of birth. While that seems rather high for such a barbaric practice, when you consider that 30% of Democrats support it, that tells you which party is on the fringe of this issue. And guess what? Americans agree on this. A plurality of Americans — 44.9% — say the Democratic Party is more extreme on abortion, while 39.2% think Republicans are.

That tells you that, contrary to what many believe, Republicans can win on the abortion issue. They need to define the Democrats as the extreme party on the issue — which shouldn’t be too difficult, considering more Americans already acknowledge this.

Admittedly, I’m not confident that Republicans are capable of doing this. As I previously noted, the results of the aforementioned polls are similar to what polls have shown for years, yet Republicans haven’t figured out how to message abortion effectively. Messaging in the post-Roe era is extremely important. Ending abortion will take time, and if the pro-life movement isn’t willing to invest the time to play the long game, they will lose.

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