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The abortion flinch: GOP flees a winning issue


On Thursday, the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner issued a heartfelt statement about the value of every life and the need to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. It was no doubt sincere. Yet the evening before, Boehner's House Republicans had abandoned those very people when it counted.

The House was set to pass on Thursday the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. But in the days leading up to the vote, Reps. Rene Ellmers, R-N.C., and Jackie Walorski,R-Ind., got cold feet and pressed to have the bill pulled. It would upset women voters, they argued, and make it harder for Republicans to win them over. Boehner's leadership caved and pulled the bill Wednesday night. Don't they read the polls?

Gallup polls show that Americans have become significantly more pro-life in the last two decades, with the country being split roughly 50-50 now. But the public skews strongly pro-life when it comes to late-term abortion. In every Gallup poll that has asked the question from 1996 to 2012 (the last year the question was asked), at least 80 percent of Americans said abortion "should be illegal" in the last three months of pregnancy.

Washington Post/ABC News polling shows that 64 percent of Americans support banning abortion after 20 weeks. As we have noted in this space before, that support is stronger among women than men. When only women are asked, support for banning abortion after 20 weeks rises to 71 percent. How is this a losing issue for Republicans?

Supposedly last week's bill was controversial because it made an exception for rape as long as the rape was reported to police. The reporting requirement made some Republicans skittish. So they prefer to let rapists go?

Republican leaders in Washington need to pay more attention to the American people and less to the Democratic Party's spin machine. Banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy is a political and moral winner. Bring the bill to a vote and let the opponents reveal themselves to be the out-of-touch extremists that they are.


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