1. On the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade, a recent Gallup Poll found mixed results in the public's attitude towards abortion.
While there was much in the poll to cheer supporters of abortion rights, there were some encouraging nuggets of data for opponents of abortion as well.
Only 29% of Americans want the 1973 decision, which held that there was a constitutional right to abortion, to be overturned. 53% opposed reversing Roe v. Wade. 18% had no opinion on the issue, which Gallup said was "the highest level of uncertainty ever recorded on this question."
However, when voters were asked to label themselves on abortion, 48% said they were pro-choice, 44% said they were pro-life, and 8% were not sure.
This means that a significant number of persons who support Roe v. Wade, or who are unsure, nevertheless consider themselves to be pro-life.
Furthermore, when Gallup asked about specific legislation, only a tiny 14% opted for unrestricted abortion on demand at any time during a pregnancy. Thus, many persons who are supporters of the Supreme Court decision and identify with the pro-choice label still support significant restrictions on abortion.
By contrast, only 31% believe abortion should be illegal during the first three months of a pregnancy—which is very close to the 29% who want Roe v. Wade overturned.
The significance of this to the pro-life side was emphasized in the August 23, 2012 issue of this newsletter, which said:
Pro-lifers can enact a lot of state and federal legislation to save the lives of unborn children by capitalizing on the sentiment that exists to limit abortions.
When we do this, we'll have about 75% of the people on our side. That will translate into both referendum and legislative victories.
But pro-lifers must be careful not to "bite off more than they can chew," meaning not to push for legislation that is beyond the scope of public opinion. If we go too far too fast, we could find 80% of the voters against us.
In a representative form of government, laws cannot be passed that do not have the support of the people.
The numbers in this new Gallup Poll are slightly different from the earlier poll, but the overall message is the same. Pro-lifers must play to their strengths, not their weaknesses.
For ten years, I was chief of staff to a state senator in the legislature of a large state. This state senator was the foremost pro-life legislator and succeeded in passing several laws restricting abortions.
While he received "heat" from the supporters of abortion rights, ironically, much of the "grief" that he received for his pro-life leadership came from those opponents of abortion who were upset that the bills he introduced were not as tough as they wanted--provisions that would have guaranteed their defeat.
It is understandable that these sincere people were genuinely disturbed by the horrific nature of abortion and wanted a remedy that would completely stop it. But there was no public support for prohibiting all abortions.
Fortunately, other pro-lifers understood the legislative adage, "Half a loaf is better than none" and worked for the enactment of measures that could actually be passed.
The lesson for the pro-life side in all states is:
1. Take polls and use the results to fully understand public opinion on various proposals to restrict abortions. Pursue those measures that have widespread support.
2. Conduct extensive educational campaigns to move public opinion, at least incrementally, to the pro-life side.
To pass tougher laws on abortion, the pro-life side must first do a much better job of educating the public about the nature of abortion. What is killed in abortion is not a glob of protoplasm or a mass of tissues, but is a human child with a recordable heart beat and brain waves.
In the early 1990s, Life Advocates in Houston produced and mailed excellent pro-life materials to every household in Harris County, one of the largest counties in the U.S.
If this kind of thing could be done in many counties, large and small, throughout America, the lives of many unborn children will be saved.
2. Senator John Kerry (D-MA) was confirmed by the Senate as Secretary of State by a vote of 96 to 3.
The three votes against him came from the two Republican senators from Texas--Ted Cruz and John Cornyn (pictured)--and from Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK).
Cornyn is up for re-election in 2014 and could be vulnerable to a primary challenger from the right.
Cornyn had a 90% rating from the American Conservative Union in 2011 and a lifetime score of 93.56%. That's good, but some of his blemishes include voting for taxpayer bailouts of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and for the financial services industry.
Mindful of the results of the 2012 primary--in which Tea Party candidate Cruz won the runoff for the Texas GOP Senate nomination over the establishment candidate, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, by a vote of 631,812 (56.82%) to 480,126 (43.17%)--it is possible Cornyn didn't want to cast too many Senate votes that were different from Cruz.
Governor Rick Perry endorsed Dewhurst over Cruz in that race and ended up damaging himself. The Houston Chronicle reported this week that a new poll shows that Perry is now politically dead.
Cornyn may not vote in perfect tandem with Cruz on every issue, but to safeguard himself from criticism from the right, the differences between the two senators this year and next year are likely to be few.
The previous What's Happening with Conservatives and the Tea Party: House votes for unlimited debt until May 19
The previous What's Happening with Seniors Benefits: HR 351, to repeal the rationing board in Obamacare
Previous issues of both newsletters.
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