In a recent op-ed, Marjorie Dannenfelser and Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV) wrote on the importance of pro-life principles during the midterm elections:
For years, the Democratic Party has relentlessly attacked Republicans who believe in the sanctity of human life. . . .Some Republicans hesitate to fight on social issues. But in 2014, some of them went on offense by coalescing behind legislation to protect babies and women after 20 weeks of pregnancy — when science tells us unborn children can feel pain. Those willing to fight were rewarded, because most Americans have never bought into the extremist Democratic Party platform of abortion on-demand, for any reason, throughout all nine months of pregnancy, and at taxpayers’ expense.
Newly-elected Congressman Alex Mooney, R-W.V. (co-author of this op-ed), credits his decision to go on offense on this issue in his victory against Nick Casey, his well-funded Democratic opponent in a “toss-up” race. Casey filled out the West Virginia Right to Life election questionnaire and answered that he would not vote to prohibit abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy — a policy supported by a majority of Americans, including 59 percent of women and 56 percent of Independents. The legislation even splits Democrats, with 46 percent supporting this common sense limit.
Mooney’s campaign released an ad that was critical of his opponent’s position on abortion, and led in every subsequent poll. Mooney ultimately won, by a comfortable margin, an election that was once regarded as a toss-up. Mooney’s case was not an exception; it was the norm in 2014. Not that long ago, recall, West Virginia was a solid blue state. But in 2014, grassroots pro-life activists were able to motivate the base and make abortion a main issue in many races. This strategy paid dividends for the GOP.
In Dannenfelser’s opinion, it is clear that 2016 candidates should be touting their pro-life values, as they clearly resonate with voters. While we are still in a pre-primary stage of the race, some candidates are already shying away from social issues, and, as the midterm results showed, that would not be a good political move. As Dannenfelser notes, holding a pro-life position is “both morally just and politically smart.”
Joshua Pinho works for the American Principles in Action.