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HomePolicySupport for Abortion and the GOP “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act”

Support for Abortion and the GOP “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act”

Typically, we are all led to believe that the abortion issue is a loser for Republicans, thus the passage of the “District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” in the House on June 18 would normally bode badly for the GOP.

However, when we wade through the constructed reality we find that just the opposite is true. Democrats locked in “toss-up” or otherwise competitive races in conservative districts who felt compelled to fall in line with Nancy Pelosi will soon find themselves under assault from pro-life independent expenditure groups. The vote breakdown is as follows:





No Vote
















House of Representatives Vote on “District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” – June 18,2013






Pelosi was ill-prepared to deal with the questions that followed the members of the Pro-Choice Caucus. When we talk about banning abortions at 20 weeks, we are really talking about 5 – 6 month old babies. Who could argue with banning that? As Frank Cannon and Jeff Bell, of the National Review, noted over the weekend:

Now, facing independent advertising expenditures being prepared by several pro-life and social-conservative groups, they will find themselves asked to explain why they favor a right to abort viable babies — including in the ninth month of pregnancy — in Gosnell-like surroundings. Judging from attempts within the last few days at such explanations by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Colorado representative Diana DeGette, co-chair of the House Pro-Choice Caucus, even the most sophisticated pro-abortion Democrats are utterly unprepared to answer such questions.

From the chart above, we can see that there were 6 Democrats who voted against the bill – as well as 6 Republicans who we will soon address – but out of the 190 Democratic “Nay” votes, all of the most vulnerable Democrats are among them.

Ron Barber (AZ) was a staff member of Gabriel Giffords before the congresswoman was shot in the tragic violence committed by lunatic Jared Loughner, however, the race took place in a conservative leaning district that gave Barber the benefit of the doubt. It was well understood to be a sympathy voter, although pundits were less willing to publicly state it as such. Nonetheless, Giffords never ran away with an electoral victory, and the polling grossly understated Republican turnout. The district of Ann Kirkpatrick closely mirrors Barber’s, and the vote against the bill will has put a target on both Democrats in conservative Arizona.

Patrick Murphy barely defeated Congressman Allen West in Florida, and the case for voter fraud was perhaps no stronger in any other district in the country. Shea-Porter is a bit different of a case, because the district is not overly pro-life, but this was one of the 2012 races in which the Democrat benefited from the last-minute movement within the electorate toward Obama. Polls prior, had shown a very tight race, and again, actually underestimated the GOP candidate right up until election day.

In addition to the races currently designated as a “toss-up” by the guys over at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics’ Crystal Ball, only McIntyre (NC), Matheson (TX), and Rahall (WV) – no doubt the 3 most conservative districts in the rated “leans Democrat” – voted against the measure. Whether or not this will be a decisive issue in these latter races is not known, but in a close contest in will not make the incumbents’ reelection efforts any easier.

Of course, in order to determine how effective the efforts of these groups may be in targeting these races, we have to measure public support and identify any trends.

Evolution of Public Opinion of Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice

The trial of Doctor Kermit Gosnell highlighted a culture of abortion that most Americans were seemingly unaware of. Currently, in the District of Columbia, abortion is legal for any reason anytime up until the moment of birth. A mere 0.7 miles from the White House, the Washington Surgi Clinic advertises that they perform abortions up to 26 weeks, well past the 20 week point at which an unborn child can feel excruciating pain. The clinic also advertises that they perform D&E abortions – see the illustration at the bottom of this post.

Support for abortion is overstated in the media, because it varies greatly on the reason, and as Americans become more educated on the reasons the vast majority of women choose to have an abortion the support for abortion has declined – significantly. UPDATED: A recent Rasmussen survey found that a plurality – 44% – of Americans favor a ban on late-term abortions.

In 1995, those accepting the pro-choice designation held a comfortable 23-point margin, 56% in favor to 33% opposed. By 2012, however, the pro-life designation was preferred by 9 points, 50 percent to 41 percent — a record low for the “pro-choice” group.

While the Gallup poll found a relatively tight margin the trend is clear. Also, both the NBC/WSJ and CNN polls found the pro-life designation to be at 52%, as the pro-choice position fell to an all-time low, just as Gallup has found. The idea that women view the Republican position on abortion as extreme is also unsubstantiated. The infamous gender gap simply is not observable when measuring the support for abortion among men and women.

Just as the AP Post poll found, support for abortion varies depending on circumstances rather than gender. Increased turnout among single women is the culprit for the large gender gap in the 2012 election, while the 2010 midterm is a perfect example of how women can split between the parties.

All in all, what we find is that the Republican position on abortion is the mainstream position, while support for abortion is falling as more Americans understand the practice and circumstances. No doubt, this will have more impact on election results depending on the individual districts, which the vulnerable Democrats will have to contend with. McIntyre (NC), Matheson (TX) and Rahall (WV), all understood that a “Nay” vote would be politically suicidal so they abstained from doing so and sided with the mainstream Republican position.

The bill never had a meaningful chance to become law, because Harry Reid would never allow it to come to a vote in the Senate, and even if it did the president – who supports infanticide and laws protecting doctors who practice it – would never have signed it into law.

Nevertheless, in a rare instance of political savvy calculation, the House GOP greatly hindered the Democrats’ ability to paint the GOP as a party with extreme pro-life positions, which favors a ban on abortions no matter the consequences. Instead, it is the Democrats who now appear to hold the extreme position that support for abortion should be favored always, regardless of how late or terrible the practice.

Image above Copyright (c) 2003 Nucleus Medical Art, all rights reserved. www.nucleusinc.com. Accessed from NRLC.

Written by

Rich, the People's Pundit, is the Data Journalism Editor at PPD and Director of the PPD Election Projection Model. He is also the Director of Big Data Poll, and author of "Our Virtuous Republic: The Forgotten Clause in the American Social Contract."

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