Editor’s note: We endeavor to bring you the top voices on current events representing a range of perspectives. Below is a column arguing that abortion will not be a decisive issue in the 2022 midterms. You can find a counterpoint here, where National Right to Life’s Carol Tobias argues that abortion will be a decisive issue in the midterms.
Democrats are electorally giddy about the U.S. Supreme Court likely overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Sure liberals don’t like the policy prospect, but now they believe at least their slumping November prospects have snapped back into high gear.
But they’re wrong. While abortion may be an important issue in the midterms for some voters, economic issues like gas prices and inflation are going to be the decisive factors. That’s because the abortion-motivated voters were already planning to come out for Democrats.
Just 37% of Americans approve of Biden’s handling of the economy, according to the RealClearPolitics average of polls, a terrible harbinger for Democrats. Electoral architect James Carville rightfully noted for Bill Clinton that “it’s the economy, stupid.”
“It might be a little messy for some people, but abortion is not going away,” Republican Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson told The Wall Street Journal’s Siobhan Hughes and Eliza Collins. “I just don’t think this is going to be the big political issue everybody thinks it is, because it’s not going to be that big a change.”
And even conversely, Roe fallout could actually hurt Democrats with Latinos, many of whom are staunchly pro-life Catholics.
The attempt by Democrat Terry McAuliffe and President Biden to trot out “Ultra MAGA” fearmongering didn’t work in Virginia last year, allowing Republican Glenn Youngkin (whose campaign I volunteered for) to cruise to gubernatorial victory. Don’t forget that McAuliffe tried to hype up the abortion issue in his race following passage of the so-called Texas “heartbeat” bill. That fell flat as voters cared more about failing schools, rising prices, failing COVID policies and bringing unity to Virginia’s culture rather than supporting divisive gender and race theories.
As The Pro-Life Millennial also noted, citing research from the Guttmacher Institute, 92% of Americans reject abortions for reasons such as economic desires, not wanting more kids, not wanting to marry the father or some other elective reason. And majorities of Americans support a 24-hour waiting period, parental consent for minors, information provided about alternatives and the doctor disclosing potential risks of abortion.
As reported by The Wall Street Journal’s William Galston, that paper’s resident canary in the progressive coal mine, “42% of Democrats and 54% of liberals agree with the proposition that ‘abortion should always be legal’ and that ‘there should be no restrictions on abortion,’ a stance that three-quarters of Americans reject. For Democrats, shifting the focus of the midterm elections away from inflation, crime and immigration toward abortion and Republican extremism should be a no-brainer — if they can avoid becoming the party of abortion on demand.”
The problem with Democrats is that they just can’t help themselves. They’re a party that’s so rigidly pro-abortion that they purge pro-life members like Democratic Illinois Rep. Dan Lipinski, who was defeated by progressive candidate Marie Newman, the first incumbent to lose a primary during the 2020 election cycle.
Now, there are only two pro-life Democrats in Congress, one in each chamber. This year, Lipinski endorsed Democratic candidate Chris Butler to succeed retiring Rep. Bobby Rush in the Chicago area.
“My pro-life position is a distinguishing factor which is important in a 17-way race,” Butler, a pastor at Chicago Embassy Church Network, told Fox News Digital, saying it was a “’huge mistake’ for the Democratic Party to position itself as pro-abortion which signals to certain people of faith there’s ‘no room’ for them.”
Galston also noted that “A recent Yahoo/YouGov poll found that while 61% of Americans believe that abortion should be ‘generally legal’ during the first three months of pregnancy, this figure falls to 32% for the second trimester and 19% for the third, a stance somewhat to the right of what Roe allows. A Pew Research Center survey found that, absent special circumstances, Americans oppose abortion by a 2-to-1 margin after 24 weeks, when the fetus has reached the age of viability.”
So to review: national Democrats don’t seem to understand that abortion is a far from settled issue. Pretending like it is will be a bad electoral strategy and will likely hurt Democrats in November if they don’t change course.
Liberals don’t want abortion hashed out the democratic (small D) way in the states as many conservatives and independents prefer. That’s because ultimately they’d rather dictate outcomes from on high than uphold representative democracy.
Carrie Sheffield is the Tony Blankley Fellow for Public Policy and American Exceptionalism at The Steamboat Institute.