Conservative firebrand Tomi Lahren brought up the issue of Roe v. Wade and the conservative approach to abortion during a July 7 segment of her Fox News Insider video series, “Final Thoughts.”
Speaking of the Supreme Court vacancy, Lahren said that pushing for Court to overturn Roe v. Wade “would be a huge mistake.” But many of the statements she made are based on faulty assumptions, which we hear daily basis from pro-choicers and sometimes even quietly from conservatives who don’t understand how abortion-related laws impact society.
I don’t fault Tomi Lahren for having these misconceptions, and as someone who has been focused full-time in pro-life work for more than 12 years, I fully acknowledge I have the benefit of having delved into these issues on a daily basis.
Similarly, there are plenty of issues — such as immigration and guns — Tomi probably knows more about than I do given her engagement in conservative media. But there is a lot more to the question of whether Roe v. Wade should continue than was captured in her recent commentary.
Misconception no. 1: Most Americans support Roe v. Wade
Lahren argues that we should not use a conservative majority on the Supreme Court to try to overturn a decision that she claimed most Americans support, citing a recent Quinnipiac poll. In fact, you’ve probably seen this statement floating around, such as when Planned Parenthood said 7 in 10 Americans support Roe v. Wade. But let’s look at that number more closely.
The poll she specifically refers to asks participants, “In general, do you agree or disagree with the 1973 Roe v. WadeSupreme Court decision that established a woman’s right to an abortion?”
But, as pointed out in The National Review, this question implies that before Roe v. Wade, abortion was completely illegal. And since other data shows a lack of understanding of what Roe actually did, polling data on support or opposition to Roe should be taken with a grain of salt.
Most people don’t know that Roe v. Wade combined with Doe v. Bolton made abortion legal in the United States through all nine months of pregnancy, for any reason whatsoever (including sex selection) and sometimes with taxpayer money.
It is a legal environment so extreme that the United States stands with North Korea, China and Canada in our policy. That doesn’t mean that every abortion facility does abortions up to the moments before birth, but it does mean that it’s possible to get late-term abortions in our country because of Roe.
Polling on Roe is often flawed because we don’t educate people on the true impact of this sweeping decision so they are responding to manipulated questions without full information.
If you want to look for an area of agreement on abortion, consider a poll by the Knights of Columbus and Marist that recently found more than three in four Americans would like to see restrictions on abortion, such as banning the procedure when a baby is able to live outside the womb. Now, there is an area of bipartisan agreement for those looking for common ground.
Still, conservatives who are motivated by principles shouldn’t base political decisions solely on polling. Instead, they should aspire to policies that best help society and work to see them effectively implemented. Polls are like weather reports – they communicate information on the current political climate, but they don’t dictate the agenda.
Misconception no. 2: Republicans lose when they run on social issues
After arguing that tax reform, voter ID and immigration will unite voters, Lahren argues that we shouldn’t use the abortion issue in elections because we lose when we run on social issues. But data just doesn’t prove that to be true. Gallup found that for people who identify as pro-life, they are more likely to vote for a candidate who shares their views.
Many pro-lifers were skeptical of President Trump during the 2016 election. But, we turned out to vote for him precisely because we believed he would be the strongest candidate to oppose abortion and he would appoint pro-life judges and justices. In this case, the pro-life vote helped President Trump win, and he has been keeping his promises to those of us who want us to help both women and their pre-born children.
Controversy is nothing to be afraid of and really impossible to avoid in politics. For example, Lahren is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, which many people would argue is a social issue. Yet Lahren doesn’t try to tamp down her support for that, nor does she encourage politicians to avoid a discussion of those rights because it may result in heated debate.
Misconception no. 3: Judges saying Roe is precedent are proof Roe should remain the standard
It is currently accurate that Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey is precedent. But the fact that Neil Gorsuch, as Lahren points out, said he would have walked out of the room if Trump asked him to overturn Roe v. Wade, or that he said abortion had been ruled on multiple times in his hearing, does not mean that Roe should not be touched.
It merely underscores the reality that judges are fierce in defending their freedom and in defending the need to remain unbiased in not deciding cases in advance without looking at the facts and law.
I’m sure that Gorsuch would have had the same reaction if Trump had asked Gorsuch to overturn Obergefell, Heller or Hedden, as Supreme Court Justices should not prejudice future cases by commenting in advance.
But consider that it was once legal to own slaves, to prevent women from voting, to separate children by race in schools and to imprison Japanese Americans in detention camps. That something is currently legal doesn’t make it right or mean that it is set in stone.
Misconception no. 4: Overturning Roe v. Wade would ban abortion at a federal level
Lahren says “the federal government does few things well,” as part of her argument for arguing against government regulation of abortion.
I 100-percent agree that the federal government is over-extended. That’s one reason that overturning Roe v. Wade would be an excellent idea, because it would return the issue to the state level, in which voters could have a voice and where legislators could begin to craft their own regulations and prohibitions on abortion. At that level, partnerships could be developed with local pregnancy resource centers, charities, and social services to help women and families facing unplanned and difficult pregnancies, to reduce abortion.
Tomi Lahren asked whether Roe v. Wade’s future was worth our time, saying, “Do we really want to fight for this?”
My answer is yes.
The fate of innocent life in the womb is the human rights issue of our day. The response to women in need who are pregnant is not to end life in the womb but to extend help and support. But as Tomi Lahren’s recent segment illustrates, there is still a lot of work to do to educate people on the facts of abortion.
Kristan Hawkins is president of Students for Life of America, which has more than 1,200 chapters on college and high school campuses in all 50 states.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.