Abortion Extremism Not a ‘Silver Bullet’ for Democrats in 2024
A major newspaper is warning Democrats that abortion may not be the “silver bullet” they think it is in elections. In an op-ed published last week, Washington Post contributing columnist Ruy Teixeira wrote that “abortion, while helpful to Democrats in 2024, might not have the potency they ascribe to it.”
Teixeira noted that Democrats often “hammer the Republicans as the sworn enemies of abortion and women’s reproductive freedom,” scoring points in the polls and at the voting booth in the wake of Roe v. Wade’s reversal last year. He added, “Here at last, the thinking goes, is a cultural issue that cuts unambiguously in Democrats’ favor.”
“But,” Teixeira continued, “the evidence suggests that when two candidates are on the ballot, support for abortion rights does not override partisanship. Many pro-choice voters are still quite willing to vote for Republican candidates.” The columnist cites several abortion-related examples, from the failure of a Kansas ballot initiative to enshrine abortion in the state’s constitution to pro-life Mike DeWine’s (R) landslide reelection as governor of Ohio. Such incidents, he argues, defy the accepted Democratic Party maxim that campaigning on abortion yields electoral wins. Teixeira further observes that the issue-motivated voters handing Democrats wins on abortion in off-year and special elections will only be a fraction of those who turn up to vote in nationwide elections in 2024.
In comments to The Washington Stand, Mary Szoch, director of the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council, said, “Every four years, the life issue is a mainstay of the presidential election debate. Since 1980, protecting the unborn has been a priority for voters. In fact, in the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan, it was largely pro-life Democrats who considered protecting life more important than voting with their party.”
She continued, “Over the last 40 plus years, Democrats have changed from the party of ‘safe, legal, and rare,’ to the party of ‘healthy, until birth and paid for by taxpayers.’ This deterioration was inevitable because the reality is that Democrats are extreme because they have accepted that an innocent unborn child can be murdered by an abortionist — not because that child can be killed at a certain gestational age or in a certain state of health — but because they are fine with taking an innocent life.”
Teixeira also pointed to the differing positions Republicans have taken on abortion, noting that some have advocated for strong pro-life policies and even a federal role in blocking or preventing abortion, while others have insisted that abortion be left entirely up to individual states.
While some Republicans have shied away from campaigning against abortion, labeling it a “losing issue,” GOP and conservative leaders have reiterated the importance of pushing back against the Democratic Party’s abortion extremism. Earlier this year, former White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany called on Republican candidates to advance pro-life policies and principles and to push back against Democrats’ abortion extremism. She said, “I’d love to see a presidential candidate look at Joe Biden and say, ‘President Biden, when does [an unborn] baby feel pain?’ I don’t think he could answer that question. Why isn’t every Democrat in America being asked that question?”
Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel has also urged her fellow GOP members not to shirk the pro-life cause. She has noted that, during the 2022 midterm elections, “Democrats spent $360 million running ads filled with lies about abortion, and most Republicans had no response.” She insisted that Republicans need to “talk about abortion, which has become a huge issue coming after the Dobbs decision,” adding that “[w]hen you don’t respond, the lies become the truth.”
Last month, McDaniel reiterated this strategy to Family Research Council President Tony Perkins on “Washington Watch.” She said, “We shouldn’t be silent. Listen, we’re proud to be a party that stands for the unborn. And I think coming out of Roe, after 50 years of … people not having to navigate this issue, it’s really important that we define ourselves before the Democrats do.” She also noted the importance of pushing back against Democrats’ abortion extremism, saying, “But let’s also put the Democrats on the defense because they stand for late-term abortion. They stand for gender-selection abortion. … They are the extreme on this issue. And when you say that to the voters, we win.”
Szoch is also urging Republicans to highlight the Democrats’ abortion extremism. “As the general public sees advances in ultrasound clearly showing who is being killed in the womb, the Democrat position becomes harder and harder for candidates to defend,” she told TWS.
Szoch elaborated, “In the 2024 presidential election, pro-life candidates should celebrate the beautiful gift of life using ultrasound pictures to highlight its beginnings in the womb. They should commit to enforcing laws protecting the unborn and their mothers. And they should describe the horrors of what an abortion is and what Democrats are for. Candidates should use the language of life, and in debates when Democrats switch to the language of choice, pro-life candidates should detail exactly what Democrats are in favor of choosing.”
In fact, the abortion extremism advocated by the Democratic Party has driven many voters away. A recent study showed that Catholic voters, for example, have abandoned the Democrats as the party’s abortion messaging and policies have become more extreme, largely coalescing instead around the Republican Party. Another survey found that nearly a quarter of registered Democrats are single-issue pro-abortion voters, meaning that abortion alone isn’t a crucial enough issue to win the support of over 75% of Democrats.
This comes as further polls and surveys show young Americans and Muslims drifting away from the Democratic Party over non-abortion issues, leaving the party uncertain of its footing with once-stolidly-blue voting blocs.
S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.