Commentary Magazine


Topic: late term abortion

Late-Term Abortion Bill No War on Women

With poll numbers placing him 14th out of 15 Republican presidential candidates with measurable results, Senator Lindsey Graham needed to do something to get attention. His answer was to push for the Senate to adopt a ban on abortions after 20 weeks, a move that might endear him to many evangelicals and other conservatives who might otherwise be inclined to think the foreign policy hawk something of a squish on domestic issues. That’s infuriated other Republican senators as well as some party establishment figures that think the mere mention of abortion is a dangerous distraction for the GOP. From their point of view, Graham’s insistence on getting a vote on the measure is an unforced error that will give Democrats an excuse to rerun their fake “war on women” campaign theme in 2016 and possibly cost the Republicans the Senate or a chance at winning the White House. But while this is a political maneuver with no chance of becoming law, liberals are wrong to think they sweep the country by defending the right to abort infants that may well be viable outside the womb. As much as the left may think the word “abortion” is a rallying cry that will help them make political hay under any circumstances, the truth about late-term procedures is not as much of a political winner as they think.

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With poll numbers placing him 14th out of 15 Republican presidential candidates with measurable results, Senator Lindsey Graham needed to do something to get attention. His answer was to push for the Senate to adopt a ban on abortions after 20 weeks, a move that might endear him to many evangelicals and other conservatives who might otherwise be inclined to think the foreign policy hawk something of a squish on domestic issues. That’s infuriated other Republican senators as well as some party establishment figures that think the mere mention of abortion is a dangerous distraction for the GOP. From their point of view, Graham’s insistence on getting a vote on the measure is an unforced error that will give Democrats an excuse to rerun their fake “war on women” campaign theme in 2016 and possibly cost the Republicans the Senate or a chance at winning the White House. But while this is a political maneuver with no chance of becoming law, liberals are wrong to think they sweep the country by defending the right to abort infants that may well be viable outside the womb. As much as the left may think the word “abortion” is a rallying cry that will help them make political hay under any circumstances, the truth about late-term procedures is not as much of a political winner as they think.

The assumption on the left is that any mention of abortion is a gift that will allow them to recreate the Todd Akin incident in which the Missouri GOP senate nominee threw away a likely Republican pickup and tarnished the party’s brand around the nation. Should a prominent Republican lose his mind and say something as stupid as Akin’s bizarre comments about rape and pregnancy, Democrats would be right to think it would be a political bonanza. But waiting for another such gaffe was a poor strategy in 2014 and isn’t likely to be any more successful in 2016.

But liberals still think they can drum up another “war on women” scare so long as anyone on the right is saying something about abortion. That feeling is fueled by a recent Gallup poll that showed that for the first time in seven years, more Americans call themselves “pro-choice” rather than “pro-life” when it comes to abortion by a 50 to 44 percent margin. That probably reflects what is something akin to a consensus that abortion should be legal in the early months of pregnancy. But the notion that this extends to other more controversial aspects of abortion is almost certainly a misnomer.

Polls have consistently showed that late term abortions have little support among the public. The same Gallup poll that made headlines about a pro-choice majority also showed that only 26 percent of Americans believed it should be legal under all circumstances. A Marist poll from earlier this year dove deeper into the question and came up with results that showed that only 16 percent of respondents were prepared to back late-term abortions.

No one should be shocked by this, least of all readers of liberal newspapers like the New York Times which reported last month that the New England Journal of Medicine had published a study showing that given adequate care, after 20 weeks an infant had a chance of survival outside of the womb. Seen in that light, abortion after 20 weeks in the absence of a need to save the life of the mother, strikes reasonable persons as something akin to infanticide, not a matter of protecting personal choice. That became abundantly clear in the gruesome murder case of Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia abortion clinic owner who not only butchered women with unsafe late-term procedures and killed children who had been born alive.

No one in the GOP should underestimate the willingness of Democrats to distort and demagogue these issues or to twist them into rhetorical constructs that are set up to make Republicans resemble Akin-like troglodytes. But if Democrats really want to go to battle on a narrowly and carefully constructed bill looking to ban something that disgusts the overwhelming majority of Americans, liberal and conservative alike, then they are welcome to try.

Getting a vote on a late-term abortion bill won’t transform Lindsey Graham into a first tier candidate. Nor should Republicans think concentrating on social issues to the determent of stands on bread-and-butter economic matters and Obama’s disastrous foreign policy is a winning formula. But neither is the fake “war on women” meme going to rescue Democrats in 2016 if it is predicated on generating outrage about killing infants that might survive on their own or denying the science on the issue. If they bank on that assumption, it is Hillary Clinton and not the Republicans who will find themselves rightly branded as extremists and out of touch with the American people.

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Later-Term Abortion and Science Denial

On Wednesday, the White House responded to the House of Representatives passage of a bill that banned abortions after 20 weeks as another example of conservatives waging a war on women. According to White House spokesman Josh Earnest, the bill was “disgraceful” and “continues to add harsh burdens to the victims of sexual assault, rape and incest.” Democrats vowed that it would never get to the floor of the Senate. If this seems familiar, it’s because we’ve heard this from the pro-choice movement and other liberals every time this issue has been raised in the past. But what was missing from the discussion and the harsh attacks on supporters of the measure as troglodyte oppressors of women was any mention of the feature that appeared on the front page of the New York Times last Thursday highlighting a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine about the viability of premature babies delivered after the 20 week period. The study showed that given care, they had a chance to survive outside the womb. But instead of taking into account medical advances that have transformed late term procedures from just a run-of-the-mill abortion into something that may be indistinguishable from infanticide, all we’re getting from liberals is the same tired rhetoric about “choice.”

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On Wednesday, the White House responded to the House of Representatives passage of a bill that banned abortions after 20 weeks as another example of conservatives waging a war on women. According to White House spokesman Josh Earnest, the bill was “disgraceful” and “continues to add harsh burdens to the victims of sexual assault, rape and incest.” Democrats vowed that it would never get to the floor of the Senate. If this seems familiar, it’s because we’ve heard this from the pro-choice movement and other liberals every time this issue has been raised in the past. But what was missing from the discussion and the harsh attacks on supporters of the measure as troglodyte oppressors of women was any mention of the feature that appeared on the front page of the New York Times last Thursday highlighting a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine about the viability of premature babies delivered after the 20 week period. The study showed that given care, they had a chance to survive outside the womb. But instead of taking into account medical advances that have transformed late term procedures from just a run-of-the-mill abortion into something that may be indistinguishable from infanticide, all we’re getting from liberals is the same tired rhetoric about “choice.”

Critics are right about the House bill never becoming law. A Democratic Party that views abortion on demand as a litmus test will never permit its Senate caucus to allow it to obtain the 60 votes it needs to be considered for a vote. Indeed, some in the House are hoping that it will help generate a legal case that could give the Supreme Court a chance to rule on the issue.

But whether it succeeds or not, what is most remarkable about the debate about late term abortion is the way the left continues to treat a procedure that is morally indefensible as sacrosanct. As I wrote last week, the New England Journal study has created a tipping point in terms of the nature of this debate. Sonograms and the advances in prenatal care made over the last 40 years have transformed our understanding of abortion since the Supreme Court legalized it in 1973 with the Roe v. Wade case. Whatever one might think about abortions early in a pregnancy — and there appears to be a clear consensus in the nation behind their legality — late term procedures are a very different thing. If, as the New England Journal study proves, infants have a fighting or good chance of survival during the period covered by the House ban, it is no longer possible to defend these procedures as merely a matter of choice.

Moreover, since the House bill has exceptions dealing with rape, incest and the rare cases where the life of the mother is at stake, the ground on which opponents of the ban must stand is getting narrow and uncomfortable.

Yet nothing we have learned about the procedure appears to be enough to influence the left to change its point of view. They are convinced that any restrictions on abortion, no matter how reasonable or how popular with a public, must be resisted at all costs. This has led them into a position that I have called a new form of denial of science. But unlike their lockstep conformity on global warming theories, the facts about infants being able to live on their own after 20 weeks doesn’t seem to interest them. Unsurprisingly, the New York Times article on the House vote didn’t even reference their own front page article from last week even though that piece acknowledged that the study might well impact the debate about abortion.

Instead of mulling whether the late term abortion ban (passed on the second anniversary of the sentencing of late term abortion butcher Kermit Gosnell for slaughtering infants born alive after such procedures) is politically wise for Republicans or a godsend to Democrats eager to replay their 2012 “war on women” attacks on their foes, we should be discussing the real life implications of medical innovations on public policy. The real issue isn’t the legality of abortion as a whole — which isn’t in question — but the lives of infants who could survive but are now still able to be legally sentenced to a grisly death because of the fears of a political faction that is still in denial about a scientific consensus and medical facts.

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Late Term Abortion Defenders Are the Real Science Deniers

For contemporary liberals there is no worse offense that to be “against science,” a term that is loosely thrown about to silence skepticism about environmental extremism. But a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine illustrates that those decrying the effort to oppose late term abortions as a right-wing “war on women” are not only on questionable moral ground but also disregarding scientific facts about premature babies. According to the Journal, it is now clear that babies born at 22 or 23 weeks into pregnancy have a decent chance to survive if given treatment. Those born at 23 weeks are even more likely to live with half doing so without significant problems. This is good news for families but as even the New York Times tacitly admitted in its story about the report, it is bad news for those on the left who have been fighting efforts in state legislatures to ban late term abortions. Given the now incontrovertible fact that babies who are now still being legally aborted could live outside of the womb, the moral rationale for opposing late term bans has disappeared. More to the point, Democrats who have treated opposition to any limits on abortion as a litmus test of support for the rights of women must now come to terms with the fact that their extremism on the issue has led them not so much to defend a right to “choose” as infanticide.

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For contemporary liberals there is no worse offense that to be “against science,” a term that is loosely thrown about to silence skepticism about environmental extremism. But a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine illustrates that those decrying the effort to oppose late term abortions as a right-wing “war on women” are not only on questionable moral ground but also disregarding scientific facts about premature babies. According to the Journal, it is now clear that babies born at 22 or 23 weeks into pregnancy have a decent chance to survive if given treatment. Those born at 23 weeks are even more likely to live with half doing so without significant problems. This is good news for families but as even the New York Times tacitly admitted in its story about the report, it is bad news for those on the left who have been fighting efforts in state legislatures to ban late term abortions. Given the now incontrovertible fact that babies who are now still being legally aborted could live outside of the womb, the moral rationale for opposing late term bans has disappeared. More to the point, Democrats who have treated opposition to any limits on abortion as a litmus test of support for the rights of women must now come to terms with the fact that their extremism on the issue has led them not so much to defend a right to “choose” as infanticide.

The study illustrates the revolution in prenatal care that has transformed the way we regard pregnancy. When the U.S. Supreme Court decided the Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion in 1973 it was easier to think of a baby before it emerged from the womb as an abstraction. Expectant parents were not supplied with sonogram pictures of their child early in the pregnancy. Babies born prior to the last month or two of pregnancy had little or no chance of survival. But in the last generation that has changed as the rates of survival for such babies have climbed. Scientific advances have now created a new reality where we now assume a premature infant will survive without complications where once we would have thought there would have been little or no hope. And those that we would not have even considered to have a prayer now have a fighting chance.

This ought to have altered the moral and political landscape on which the issue of abortion is decided. But for much of our political establishment, inconvenient facts such as those put forward by the New England Journal must be disregarded. Instead of coming to grips with the fact that allowing the practice of late term abortion is enabling the slaughter of many babies that could live, they remain in denial. Instead they make national heroines of politicians like Wendy Davis who filibustered a late term abortion bill that would protect the lives of infants that we know might be able to live apart from their mother if given sufficient medical care. Just last month, Rep. Debbie Wassserman Schultz argued that there should be no restrictions on abortion.

It should be acknowledged that the Journal study and the entire question of late term abortions need not alter the debate about abortions that occur early in a pregnancy. While a large number of Americans believe abortion at any point is immoral, there seems to be a broad consensus that such procedures should remain legal. Moreover, there seems little chance that the courts will ever reverse Roe rendering the discussion about banning abortion altogether largely irrelevant to political reality. Nor should this discussion ignore the fact that some abortions, including those that might happen late in a pregnancy, might be dictated by medical necessity to save the life of the mother. But while such instances are real they are rare.

It is also true that many in the pro-choice camp regard efforts to ban late term procedures as the thin edge of the wedge of the pro-life movement effort to gain a toehold before moving on to broader restrictions. They’re probably right about that in the same sense that the National Rifle Association regards any restrictions on gun sales or ownership, no matter how reasonable, to be the precursor of efforts to repeal the Second Amendment and take away the right to bear arms. But just because some would like to ban all abortions that most Americans wish would remain legal does not require us to ignore the facts about late term pregnancies.

In 2013, the nation was reminded of the moral cost of late term abortion when the trial of Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia abortion provider, revealed the facts about the way his clinic carried out late term abortions. Gosnell’s abortion mill carried out late term procedures that other doctors refused to do. His facility was not only endangering the lives of the mothers who came to them but murdered babies born alive during late abortions. We were told that Gosnell’s murderous behavior was an exception but when the case prompted a movement to raise the standards at abortion clinics, the pro-choice movement responded with anger claiming such regulations were merely a subterfuge for interfering with abortion rights.

That debate continues but as we head into the 2016 election cycle and there’s little doubt we will be hearing a great deal more about those who wish to ban procedures as waging a war against women. But this latest study should serve as a reminder that the debate about late term abortion isn’t so much about a culture war the left thinks it can win as it is a gap between those who understand that science has forever altered the debate about some kinds of abortions and those who think we must pretend that medicine hasn’t made any progress since 1973. In this case the “deniers” are on the left, not the right.

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Wendy Davis’s Abortion Flip Disaster

In recent weeks, Texas Democrat Wendy Davis has been struggling to get her gubernatorial campaign back on track. After rocketing to stardom last year for her 13-hour filibuster in the Texas State Senate to stop a bill limiting late-term abortions, Davis became the idol of liberals and their great hope to lead a Democratic revival in the Lone Star State. But while Democrats and feminists saw her as the new voice of abortion-rights advocacy, her campaign strategists preferred to emphasize her life story as a someone who rose from being a single mother in living in a trailer park and then worked her way through college and law school. But the publication last month of Dallas Morning News feature that revealed that Davis was not quite the self-starter she claimed to be revealed the perils of running on a mythical Horatio Alger story.

Along with tales of a troubled and possibly incompetent staff, Davis’ long shot run for Austin seemed in trouble. But as bad as all that seemed, the latest news about Davis should not only brand her as a hypocrite but further dampen the enthusiasm of her national audience. As the Dallas Morning News reports, Davis now says she supports the very same ban on abortions that she filibustered: 

Wendy Davis said Tuesday that she would have supported a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, if the law adequately deferred to a woman and her doctor.

Davis, a Fort Worth senator and the likely Democratic nominee for governor, told The Dallas Morning News’ editorial board that less than one-half of 1 percent of Texas abortions occur after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Most of those were in cases where fetal abnormalities were evident or there were grave risks to the health of the woman.

“I would line up with most people in Texas who would prefer that that’s not something that happens outside of those two arenas,” Davis said.

While Davis tried to explain her famous filibuster by claiming that the Texas bill she temporarily stopped didn’t provide enough exceptions to the ban to account for risks to the health of women, that isn’t true. The bill had the same exceptions that Davis said she wanted. While there was a difference of opinion about the tougher safety standards for abortion clinics that was part of the legislation (provisions that protected the health of women), there was little question that the real issue here was late-term abortion. By claiming now to be in favor of such a ban in a vain effort to curry favor with moderate Texas voters, Davis has trashed her own brand. If Texans were not already questioning her authenticity after learning more about her personal history, they know understand that even on her signature issue, she’s as phony as three dollar bill.

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In recent weeks, Texas Democrat Wendy Davis has been struggling to get her gubernatorial campaign back on track. After rocketing to stardom last year for her 13-hour filibuster in the Texas State Senate to stop a bill limiting late-term abortions, Davis became the idol of liberals and their great hope to lead a Democratic revival in the Lone Star State. But while Democrats and feminists saw her as the new voice of abortion-rights advocacy, her campaign strategists preferred to emphasize her life story as a someone who rose from being a single mother in living in a trailer park and then worked her way through college and law school. But the publication last month of Dallas Morning News feature that revealed that Davis was not quite the self-starter she claimed to be revealed the perils of running on a mythical Horatio Alger story.

Along with tales of a troubled and possibly incompetent staff, Davis’ long shot run for Austin seemed in trouble. But as bad as all that seemed, the latest news about Davis should not only brand her as a hypocrite but further dampen the enthusiasm of her national audience. As the Dallas Morning News reports, Davis now says she supports the very same ban on abortions that she filibustered: 

Wendy Davis said Tuesday that she would have supported a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, if the law adequately deferred to a woman and her doctor.

Davis, a Fort Worth senator and the likely Democratic nominee for governor, told The Dallas Morning News’ editorial board that less than one-half of 1 percent of Texas abortions occur after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Most of those were in cases where fetal abnormalities were evident or there were grave risks to the health of the woman.

“I would line up with most people in Texas who would prefer that that’s not something that happens outside of those two arenas,” Davis said.

While Davis tried to explain her famous filibuster by claiming that the Texas bill she temporarily stopped didn’t provide enough exceptions to the ban to account for risks to the health of women, that isn’t true. The bill had the same exceptions that Davis said she wanted. While there was a difference of opinion about the tougher safety standards for abortion clinics that was part of the legislation (provisions that protected the health of women), there was little question that the real issue here was late-term abortion. By claiming now to be in favor of such a ban in a vain effort to curry favor with moderate Texas voters, Davis has trashed her own brand. If Texans were not already questioning her authenticity after learning more about her personal history, they know understand that even on her signature issue, she’s as phony as three dollar bill.

This cynical pivot on abortion shouldn’t surprise those who have followed Davis’s career closely. As even the sympathetic profile in this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine reveals, the Texas state senator is a cool customer who has built her career on pragmatism and is nothing like the supermom or the liberal ideologue that her fans loved. Though the national discussion about her filibuster that was fueled by the glowing stories about Davis that were broadcast and published by the liberal mainstream media portrayed her as a lone figure standing up against dark forces of intolerance, her latest comments about the issue reveal that she understands what most Americans are thinking about abortion.

Nationwide efforts to ban late-term abortions are not driven by pro-life fanaticism but by the recognition by the majority of Americans that once a fetus is viable, the line between abortion and infanticide has been erased. Just as important, the conditions and practices at clinics that perform such procedures have come under greater scrutiny since the Kermit Gosnell murder case in Philadelphia last year. Davis’s effort to avoid being labeled as the champion of such procedures is an understandable attempt to be seen as part of the mainstream rather than as a symbol of liberal extremism.

But the problem for Davis is that this maneuver will now be seen as just another example of her dishonesty. Voters understand that a women who would fib about working her way up on her own when, in fact, she was put through college and law school by the financial support of an older second husband whom she discarded once he had paid off her debts, is someone who is liable to say or do anything to get ahead. The Times Magazine profile, which provides a breathless account of the filibuster, also reveals that Davis sent an envoy to her ex-husband last fall to persuade him to keep quiet about the details of their marriage and divorce. Unfortunately for her, he hasn’t complied and the portrait of the candidate that has emerged from his interviews has been devastating. When asked about his ex-wife’s attempts to portray herself as a more dutiful mother than she actually was, Jeff Davis, who emptied a retirement account to put Wendy through Harvard Law and then gave her a no-show job at his company to give her a salary, wearily responded to Times writer Robert Draper, “print the legend,” the classic line from the movie “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.”

Perhaps liberals would still like Davis’s career to be portrayed in the manner of the hero of that film whose fictional exploits were deemed more important than the truth, but Davis’s flip flop on late-term abortion puts a neat bow on the story line of her mendacity. Wendy Davis’s campaign was built on the idea that she was different from other politicians. But it turns out that not only does her personal life show her to be a typical Type A political animal that will exploit anyone to get ahead, she’s even willing to fudge on the issue that made her a star. That’s a formula almost certain to return her to a well-deserved obscurity after November.

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Can Democrats Win on Abortion in 2014? Not Necessarily.

Pro-life activists are streaming into Washington for tomorrow’s annual March for Life on the Mall marking the anniversary of the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Weather permitting, Republicans will be out in force to join the pro-lifers, while liberals continue to hope the issue will work in their favor this year as it did two years ago. After successfully persuading many voters that the GOP was waging a “war on women” in 2012, many Democrats believe the issue could help stave off an electoral disaster in this year’s midterm elections. As the New York Times reports, both parties traditionally look to abortion to help mobilize their bases, but for Democrats it has become a rallying cry to convince women that their freedom depends on turning out to defeat conservative Republicans.

Are they right? Given the impact that Missouri senatorial candidate Todd Akin’s ignorant comments on abortion and rape had not only on his own losing race in 2012 but on the entire GOP that year, it’s hard to argue with the conclusion that the faux war on women meme was a big winner for Democrats. The demonization of Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinielli that helped him lose the women’s vote in November also points to the way liberals have manipulated abortion to their advantage. But the assumption that the Democrats can play this card again this year may be wrong. Moreover, Democrats may also be underestimating conservatives’ capacity to present the issue in a way that will help boost their turnout and diminish sympathy for candidates who march under the pro-choice banner.

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Pro-life activists are streaming into Washington for tomorrow’s annual March for Life on the Mall marking the anniversary of the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Weather permitting, Republicans will be out in force to join the pro-lifers, while liberals continue to hope the issue will work in their favor this year as it did two years ago. After successfully persuading many voters that the GOP was waging a “war on women” in 2012, many Democrats believe the issue could help stave off an electoral disaster in this year’s midterm elections. As the New York Times reports, both parties traditionally look to abortion to help mobilize their bases, but for Democrats it has become a rallying cry to convince women that their freedom depends on turning out to defeat conservative Republicans.

Are they right? Given the impact that Missouri senatorial candidate Todd Akin’s ignorant comments on abortion and rape had not only on his own losing race in 2012 but on the entire GOP that year, it’s hard to argue with the conclusion that the faux war on women meme was a big winner for Democrats. The demonization of Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinielli that helped him lose the women’s vote in November also points to the way liberals have manipulated abortion to their advantage. But the assumption that the Democrats can play this card again this year may be wrong. Moreover, Democrats may also be underestimating conservatives’ capacity to present the issue in a way that will help boost their turnout and diminish sympathy for candidates who march under the pro-choice banner.

The electoral facts of life on abortion have always been focused on each party’s base and not the political center. It’s a litmus test for single issue voters on both ends of the spectrum. But most Americans don’t base their ballot choices solely on the issue of abortion.

Polls have consistently shown that the majority doesn’t want to overturn Roe v. Wade or to criminalize abortion. But they also demonstrate that a clear majority approves of significant restrictions on the practice, such as requiring parental consent and enacting bans on late-term procedures. The latter point is a crucial weakness for liberals because the advances in medical science, particularly sonograms, since the court ruled on Roe in 1973 make such abortions look more like infanticide than a woman exercising her “right to choose.” Last year’s gruesome Kermit Gosnell murder trial in Philadelphia opened the eyes of many Americans who had never understood exactly what late-term abortion meant or the possibility that such horrors involving the slaughter of babies born alive as a result of botched procedures might be more common than they had realized or than the liberal media had ever sought to inform them.

Thus, messaging is the key to whether the discussion of abortion can stampede voters away from Republicans or, as the GOP hopes, help boost their turnout in a year in which Democrats can no longer count on President Obama’s coattails. That’s why GOP gaffes such as the one committed by Akin are fatal to Republicans and tarnish the national image of conservatives. But the notion that Democrats can keep their stranglehold on the women’s vote ignores the way sonograms and the Gosnell case influence public opinion on late-term abortion. Though Wendy Davis vaulted to national liberal stardom last year on the strength of a filibuster against a bill that banned late-term abortions after 20 weeks—the period after which most fetuses become viable outside the womb—if the GOP can focus its candidates on this issue, it is by no means a foregone conclusion that it will work against them. Republicans also think they have another, related winning issue in the attempts to push back against the ObamaCare mandate forcing employers to pay for abortion and/or requiring the use of public funds to pay for them.

As long as Democrats can portray Republicans as troglodytes who think, as Akin did, that women’s bodies magically protect them from pregnancy in cases of rape, they are on firm ground to pursue their war on women theme. But if Republicans can manage to stay on message on late-term procedures and the impact of ObamaCare, there’s every reason to believe widespread concerns over  abortion will attract more voters to their candidates.

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Late-Term Abortion Still the Issue in Texas

Abortion-rights activists are celebrating this afternoon in the wake of the news that a federal court has struck down a provision of a controversial Texas law. This seems like sweet revenge for the many liberals (especially those in the media) who applauded State Senator Wendy Davis’s filibuster of the first attempt by Republicans to get a controversial bill through the Texas legislature. Unlike fellow Texan Ted Cruz, whose anti-ObamaCare filibuster was widely reviled in the mainstream media, Davis’s attempt to obstruct the bill imposing new regulations on abortion clinics and restrictions on late-term abortion made her a national star and a likely Democratic candidate for governor. Any chipping away at the legislation, which was eventually passed when the legislature reconvened in Austin, is going to be treated as a victory for the pro-choice side of the abortion debate.

But those cheering this development should take a deep breath. Federal District Court Judge Lee Yeakel ruled the bill’s provision demanding that all doctors performing abortions in Texas have admitting privileges at hospitals was an unreasonable restriction of abortion rights. But the main parts of the legislation remain in place. Texas abortion clinics are still required to meet the health standards required of all ambulatory surgery centers. More importantly, the ban on abortions after 20 weeks—the point where modern medical science has largely rendered fetuses viable outside the womb—is also unchallenged. As such, the key issues involved in the debate about the Texas law are still on the table.

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Abortion-rights activists are celebrating this afternoon in the wake of the news that a federal court has struck down a provision of a controversial Texas law. This seems like sweet revenge for the many liberals (especially those in the media) who applauded State Senator Wendy Davis’s filibuster of the first attempt by Republicans to get a controversial bill through the Texas legislature. Unlike fellow Texan Ted Cruz, whose anti-ObamaCare filibuster was widely reviled in the mainstream media, Davis’s attempt to obstruct the bill imposing new regulations on abortion clinics and restrictions on late-term abortion made her a national star and a likely Democratic candidate for governor. Any chipping away at the legislation, which was eventually passed when the legislature reconvened in Austin, is going to be treated as a victory for the pro-choice side of the abortion debate.

But those cheering this development should take a deep breath. Federal District Court Judge Lee Yeakel ruled the bill’s provision demanding that all doctors performing abortions in Texas have admitting privileges at hospitals was an unreasonable restriction of abortion rights. But the main parts of the legislation remain in place. Texas abortion clinics are still required to meet the health standards required of all ambulatory surgery centers. More importantly, the ban on abortions after 20 weeks—the point where modern medical science has largely rendered fetuses viable outside the womb—is also unchallenged. As such, the key issues involved in the debate about the Texas law are still on the table.

Critics of the Texas law are not off base when they claim that it is an attempt to make abortions more difficult to obtain. Rather than trying to overturn the Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide, pro-lifers have cleverly refocused their efforts in recent years on issues where they can count on the support of most Americans. While support for first-term abortion is still a mainstream political reality, groups like NARAL and Planned Parenthood that have become the political engines of the pro-choice side have been slow to realize that late-term abortions are a very different thing in the eyes of most Americans. Once a healthy fetus is old enough to survive on its own, abortion becomes less a matter of a “choice” than infanticide. Moreover, the Gosnell case and other similar instances of abortion clinic horrors have brought into focus the way that industry clearly requires the sort of regulation that will bring it into line with the standards hospitals and other health-care providers are expected to meet.

The Texas law’s hospital admission provision may well have been excessive since qualified doctors practicing medicine could well do so without being affiliated with a hospital. But the key issues here are stopping late-term abortions and making the people who own abortion clinics—generally a highly profitable business—assure the public that they are not harboring more Gosnells. Nothing in the Texas decision changes that. That means that while Wendy Davis’s fans may be encouraged today, they need to remember that the important aspects of the Texas law they have tried so hard to trash remains in place. More than that, they should comprehend that the growing understanding of the barbarity of late-term abortion means they are on the wrong side of history as well as morality.

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