Thursday, November 11, 2010

Federal election analysis, and where we stand

The following is by Doug Johnson, Federal Legislative Director at National Right to Life (NRLC).

The first two years of the Obama Administration have been a time of multiple setbacks for the pro-life cause at the federal level. Behind smokescreens of soft, deceptive rhetoric, the Administration has pushed an abortion-expansionist agenda on both domestic and overseas fronts, employing executive powers, nominations, and legislative attacks. The single greatest pro-life setback has been enactment of the massive [health care] restructuring law ("Obamacare"). ...

Now we have received the judgment of the electorate: The bloc of Democrats who abandoned the pro-life movement to satisfy President Obama and Speaker Pelosi suffered severe losses. In all, at least a dozen House incumbents who had taken high-profile stands against federal funding of abortion, but who ended up voting for the health care law, were defeated by pro-life challengers (or, in Stupak's case, suddenly retired).

Far greater losses were sustained among the ranks of House Democrats who had seldom or never voted pro-life: upwards of 40 were replaced by firmly pro-life Republicans.

It was the assessments of candidates by the mainstream pro-life organizations, such as NRLC, that correlated with the results: According to a national post-election poll conducted by The Polling Company, 24% of those who actually voted remembered receiving a previous communication or hearing an ad from National Right to Life about the candidates.

Fully 30% of voters said that abortion affected their votes, and this group broke nearly 3-to-1 in favor of the pro-life candidates.

Asked, "Did the issue of funding for abortion in the Obama health care law affect the way you voted in today's election?," 31% of voters responded in the affirmative — 27% who said they voted “for candidates who opposed the health care law,” and 4% who said they voted “for candidates who favored the health care law.” In other words, 87% of the voters who said the issue mattered, voted in accord with the NRLC position.

The take-home lesson, for lawmakers in both parties, could hardly be clearer: If you vote against the pro-life position –as defined by the mainstream pro-life groups — on a major abortion-related public policy issue, you will be held accountable by a substantial bloc of the electorate. ...

In addition to the replacement of about 40 career pro-abortion incumbents and about a dozen defectors, in about 25 other cases pro-life House incumbents of both parties are being replaced (through either retirement or defeat) by new, firmly pro-life candidates. In only one district in the entire nation was a firmly pro-life incumbent defeated by a solidly pro-abortion challenger. ...

What's that all boil down to? Overall, there has been a net shift in the pro-life direction in the House of 40 to 55 votes, depending on the issue. This brings within the realm of possibility full House approval of a permanent, government-wide prohibition on federal subsidies for abortion, such as the No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion Act proposed by Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), which has already been endorsed as a priority in the "Pledge to America" issued by the incoming Republican majority leadership in October. It also sets the stage for a battle royal over legislation to repeal the Obamacare law itself and replace it with something consistent with pro-life principles.

The election results were good in the Senate, as well, where the net shift in the pro-life direction will be from four to seven votes, depending on the issue. No senator is being replaced by a successor who has a weaker position on abortion.

This shift in the Senate will enhance pro-life prospects for fending off new legislative attacks on existing pro-life policies — among these, an ongoing effort to repeal a ban on performing abortions in U.S. military medical facilities, and a variety of bills intended to further enhance the Administration's ongoing efforts to expand abortion access throughout the developing world. But President Obama's veto pen may still pose a formidable obstacle to enactment of legislation targeted at the gross deficiencies of the Obamacare law, and of the No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion Act.