After rebuff by voters, NARAL and Planned Parenthood issue survey showing abortion is a winning issue.
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WASHINGTON – In September and October, the Twitter page of Ilyse Hogue showed photographs of the president of NARAL Pro Choice America with pro-choice Democratic candidates, including Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado.
“Thrilled to be on the bus with @MarkUdall2014. Need him in the Senate 2 fight 4 women, families, & future!” Hogue tweeted on Oct. 20.
Five days later, Hogue shared a photograph of Rep. Bruce Baley of Iowa, a Senate candidate, speaking in front of a podium at an Iowa Democratic Party event. “Tearing it up @BruceBraley#jj2014#iasen#vote,” she tweeted to her 10,700 followers.
On Election Day, both Udall and Braley fell to pro-life Republican challengers.
But the spirit of political activism endures in the form of a study that NARAL and Planned Parenthood released Wednesday. The paper concluded that opposing abortion rights hurt more than it helped candidates on Nov. 4.
“This data confirms what candidates know and what we have been seeing for many months on the campaign trail – that running on an anti-choice platform is a loser,” Hogue said in a statement. “The facts are clear, and indisputable, the majority of Americans favor women having the right to make their own health care decisions.”
The study found that pro-life candidates who oppose abortion in all circumstances, including rape and a threat to maternal health, suffered the most at the hands of voters. “For many voters, including key blocs of independents and moderate voters, opposition to access to women’s healthcare can be an immediate disqualifier of Republican candidates,” the authors of the study concluded.
Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner Research, a respected polling organization in Washington, conducted the study of voters’ attitudes to abortion and contraception in four states that had a tightly contested Senate race – Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina, and New Hampshire.
In addition, the study concluded that pro-choice forces won the battle over access to birth control. Republicans Cory Gardner of Colorado, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, and Joni Ernst of Iowa endorsed providing artificial birth control over the counter rather than through a prescription, the authors noted.
Mallory Quigley, a spokeswoman for the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life organization, said the group takes no position on birth control or birth control policy. But she heaped scorn on the NARAL-Planned Parenthood study as a political con job. “Right before the election, these groups said candidates like Cory Gardner wanted to ban condoms,” Quigley said, referring to an ad NARAL released one week before Election Day. “Their spin is so see-through.”
The study from Planned Parenthood and NARAL blamed a weak economy for the Democrats losses’ in the Colorado, Iowa, and North Carolina Senate races. For example, it found that 41 percent of voters in Colorado said a Republican candidate who “supports a plan that could interfere with personal, private medical decisions relating to birth control and ban access to safe and legal abortion” was a “very persuasive reason” to oppose the candidate.
Yet Gardner captured 48.6 percent of the vote. How could candidates such as Gardner succeed win despite the alleged handicap?
Dick Wadhams, a campaign adviser to Gardner, said Colorado Democrats overplayed their hand by attacking Gardner’s support for a federal bill on “personhood” and previous support for a bill that could have banned contraceptive measures such as intrauterine devices. “The whole war on women theme was bankrupt. This election proved it,” Wadhams said in an interview last week.
Indeed, poll results show that the vast majority of Americans oppose the vast majority of abortions that occur.
The Gallup polling organization has asked Americans if they oppose abortion in cases of economic duress for the mother:
Now I am going to read some specific situations under which an abortion might be considered. For each one, please say whether you think abortion should be legal in that situation, or illegal. How about — [RANDOM ORDER]
When the woman or family cannot afford to raise the child
|2011 Jun 9-12||36||61||1||2|
|2003 Jan 10-12||35||61||2||2|
|2000 Mar30-Apr 2||34||62||2||2|
|1996 Jul 25-26||32||62||3||3|
|(vol.) = Volunteered response|
Yet the Alan Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice research organization, in July released a study that found that women and families turned to abortion to get them out of a bad economic situation. “Three fourths say they cannot afford a child; three-fourths say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents,” the study noted.
The title of the NARAL-Planned Parenthood study is “Protecting Access to Reproductive Healthcare and Abortion As An Electoral Priority.” The study had a margin of plus-or-minus of 4.9 percentage points in the Colorado and North Carolina studies.
Mark Stricherz covers Washington for Aleteia. He is author of Why the Democrats are Blue.