The long battle over procured abortion has been a constant psywar. The media have done their best to create a hostile climate around those defending life while seeking to give the impression that everyone supports abortion.
Pro-lifers have fought back tooth and nail by presenting a vibrant, compassionate movement that contradicts this negative image. As abortion clinics close in record numbers and hundreds of thousands of young people attend pro-life rallies, the lack of universal support for procured abortion becomes evident.
Much of this psywar centers around images, perceptions and moods. Thus, the message about the November election results was that the abortion issue is a liability that conservatives had best abandon if they want to win at voting booths. The pro-abortion lobby is trying to convey an all-is-lost gloom around the issue.
This gloomy notion is exaggerated. So says leading political analyst Karl Rove, hardly a hardcore pro-lifer. With his characteristic practical sense and keen observation, he says don’t believe the hype.
In an article in The Wall Street Journal, the chief strategist for George W. Bush says that the importance of the abortion issue in the November election was vastly overstated. In fact, Republican performance was better than expected in many blue regions. There was no resounding victory for Democrats.
The left has used the Virginia results as proof of the “abortion liability.” Democrats maintained control of the state senate and picked up three seats in the House of Delegates, creating its razor-thin majority there. It was hardly a landslide.
However, Mr. Rove points out that Virginia is a blue state, which President Biden won by 10 points in 2020. In the recent election, however, Republicans took seven state house seats in districts that Mr. Biden won by up to ten points and three senate seats that he won with up to nine percentage points. They did this without losing a single district they had won in 2020. Indeed, he notes that if these results were an example of losing, the Republicans could use more such “losses” in other states.
“These margins do not fit with the notion that abortion draws large numbers of independents and Republicans to vote for Democratic candidates,” Mr. Rove concluded.
He credits the Virginia razor-thin victories more to Democratic redistricting than to abortion politics. Meanwhile, polls show that pro-life Governor Glenn Youngkin is immensely more popular among Virginians than the radical pro-abortion President Biden.
A similar dynamic was at work in Kentucky, another showcase for pro-abortion activists. The numbers, again, do not reflect the spin. The governor’s race was much more based on the personal record of the well-known and liked incumbent than on abortion. The “abortion liability” did not drag down the statewide Republican ticket—all firm pro-lifers—that won by an average margin of 18 points.
Even the Ohio referendum was not proof of abortion’s appeal. Mr. Rove attributed the defeat to errors in strategy and framing. The pro-life side was massively outspent as the opposition poured outside money into the effort. He believes this defeat and other such state ballot measures are inconclusive.
While Mr. Rove asks readers not to “believe the hype around abortion,” he is careful to say that pro-lifers need to adapt to the new circumstance after Dobbs.
Abortion can sometimes benefit the Democrats in this new era. Pro-lifers must be careful about how they engage in the debate and be prepared to invest funds in their efforts. However, he insists that the anti-abortion cause is a winning issue “if framed with care.”
The important thing is not to give in to the media’s gloom machine that tries to claim all is lost. It is easy to forget that the Dobbs decision threw the pro-abortion movement into the throes of despair. It still has not recovered.
In the psywar over procured abortion, victory comes to those who are grounded in certainties, not dark impressions. In this case, the pro-life movement must do what it has always done: confide in God, who will give certain victory to those who defend His law.
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