In an essay for the latest edition of the Washington Examiner magazine, I argue that, in the event Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey are overturned this summer, Democrats are taking a big political risk by going all-in on their abortion extremism. From the piece:
Not only is the Democratic position on abortion morally abhorrent, but it’s also deeply unpopular with the public and even with most Democrats. Public opinion, of course, doesn’t dictate morality; abortion is wrong no matter what Gallup might find. Nevertheless, it’s significant that Democratic politicians have settled themselves so far outside the mainstream. They haven’t yet paid a clear and significant political price for their abortion extremism, but that could swiftly change in a post-Roe country where Democrats immediately begin pushing for federally protected and funded abortion on demand — a position supported by few Democrats, let alone most people.
A 2022 Marist poll found that more than three-quarters of people favor laws far more protective of unborn children than are permitted under Roe. About a third of Democrats describe themselves as pro-life, and according to Gallup, only 18% of Democrats support abortion for any reason in the last three months of pregnancy, the official position of the party. Marist has found that a majority even of “pro-choice” respondents would limit abortion to the first three months of pregnancy, the so-called hard cases of rape and incest, or when a mother’s life is at risk.
But left-wing politicians appear unwilling to admit that their extremism might have political consequences. During the 2020 primary, pro-life Democrats repeatedly asked candidates whether they were welcome in the party despite their opposition to abortion. The response they received was, essentially, “Take a hike.”
“I think being pro-choice is an absolutely essential part of being a Democrat,” socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders offered. “By this time in history … when we talk about what a Democrat is, I think being pro-choice is an essential part of that.”
As I note in the piece, this extremism will become far more salient in the event that Roe and Casey are reversed or walked back this term, as is expected. In such an event, the stark divide between Democratic politicians and the public will intensify and become more obvious and more relevant. The average American might not favor total bans on abortion, but the average American also doesn’t like the Democratic Party line of abortion on demand, for any reason, funded by the taxpayer. And pro-lifers have a distinct advantage in the fight over abortion law: We are willing to accept incremental victories on the way to our goal of total abolition, as we work to convince our fellow Americans that total abolition is the only just and morally acceptable option. Democratic politicians have shown no comparable willingness to compromise on policy while defending their position — and that rigidity is going to cost them.
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