Roll Call’s Melinda Henneberger was able to get something out of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): the California congresswoman isn’t for abortion on demand. Yet, it’s a piece of Bizarro Theater that captures how abortion has become the lynchpin for the Democratic Party. Moreover, you decide whether she thinks there should be limits on abortion (via Roll Call) [emphasis mine]:
Asked about the 20-week ban, Pelosi answered, “Let me say this; I’m a Catholic, a devout, practicing Catholic. I take great comfort in my faith, come from a very Catholic family, largely pro-life. I’ve had five children and the day my fifth child was born, my oldest turned 6, so I’m with the program in terms of the Catholic Church. However, if there’s one issue that really — I try to be dispassionate about how we find solutions — if there’s one issue that really is almost inflaming to women, is when politicians say we will influence the size and timing of your family; we will decide what is right for you. …
“Most of those cases that we hear beyond 20 weeks are painful for the families — painful for the families — but that’s not up to politicians in Washington, D.C., to decide; that’s between women and their doctors.”
So, lawmakers should never set any limits on abortion?
“No,’’ she said, “I don’t believe in abortion on demand, I don’t believe in abortion on demand. I’m talking about the health of the mother and the child and this is not a decision that a politician should be making. This is about a woman’s judgment. This is about respect — respect — for women. I sometimes wonder if the Republican men who are here even know what’s going on in their own families, because the fact is that contraception and birth control is something that is used — I don’t believe that abortion is a form of birth control or contraception — and if you want to diminish the number of abortions in our country, you should love contraception, but they don’t.”
Raising her finger in admonition, she said, “It’s really important not to change the subject back to abortion; they don’t believe in contraception and family planning. They don’t believe in it.”
Now, Pelosi seems to be doing two things, and failing at them miserably. Deflecting on the abortion question to tear into Republicans for their supposed lack of support on contraception and birth control, while coming off as incredibly rude and pompous regarding the remarks about the sexual histories of her fellow colleagues’ families on the Hill. Pelosi can’t convince everyone that the pill or condoms are like nature’s candy, so she has to unnecessarily put Republicans’ families in the crosshairs. Aren’t families supposed to be off-limits, especially with this nonsense? At the same time, this whole issue is irrelevant; I’ll come back to that in a second.
Second, she’s against abortion on demand? The former speaker found herself under siege by all sides with these remarks. First, this weak sauce didn’t faze Ashley McGuire of the Catholic Association:
"In a stunning interview with Melinda Henneberger, Nancy Pelosi manages to insult women and the American intelligence at once. She claims to simultaneously oppose any restrictions on abortion whatsoever and oppose abortion on demand. Her position is completely out of step with the average American, who opposes late-term abortion and taxpayer funding for abortion. Throughout the interview, she repeatedly insults women with the sexist, tired and statistically inaccurate assumption that women automatically support abortion by nature of their gender, especially her extremist view of it. In fact, the overwhelming majority opposes her support for abortions after 20 weeks. Nancy Pelosi needs some more recent polling and some newspapers from this millennium."
Even NARAL Pro-Choice America wasn’t happy about those remarks since she gave air time to those “twisted GOP talking points”:
“At a time when our rights are under daily attack in the halls of Congress, on the campaign trail, in statehouses and in the courts, now more than ever, we need our champions to speak with a clear and strong voice in support of our legal right to abortion,’’ said the statement from NARAL senior vice president Sasha Bruce. “Unfortunately, Leader Pelosi’s recent comments fall well short of this standard.
“The Leader should stop using twisted GOP talking points about abortion and birth control. We don’t know women who demand abortion or use abortion as birth control. We do know women who make thoughtful decisions about how and if they want to start a family, and who need access to all reproductive-health care services, including abortion. We’re confident the Leader does too, which makes her comments all the more troubling.
“Time and time again, Leader Pelosi has stood up for women and our reproductive rights. But at a moment when so much is at stake, her comments are particularly disappointing and ill-advised.”
Pelosi’s office attempted to clarify:
“Roe v. Wade affirmed a woman’s right to make her own reproductive health care decisions. Leader Pelosi was referring to the fact that abortions later in pregnancy are not guaranteed under Roe v. Wade, with limited exceptions such as protecting the mother’s life or health. In an attempt to chip away at a woman’s right to choose, House Republicans voted to impose a nationwide ban on abortions after 20 weeks with no meaningful exception to protect the health of the mother.”
Yet, let’s not kid ourselves, even if exceptions like rape, incest, and life of the mother were included in a new bill banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy–Democrats would still vote against it. There’s simply too much money, grassroots support, and other campaign resources at stake for the Democrats if they anger these pro-abortion zealots who probably aren’t bothered by abortion on demand; they want it to be taxpayer-funded at the very least. The former position just isn’t politically ripe yet, given that 60 percent of American women support banning abortions after 20 weeks.
Right now, Planned Parenthood is gearing up for war with Republicans this year. After months of negative press and congressional hearings, the nation’s largest provider of abortions is going on the offensive with a $20 million effort to help pro-abortion candidates win this November. To help them in this effort, Planned Parenthood, who we all know is one of the many groups allied with the Democratic Party, has tapped Everytown for Gun Safety’s political director to bolster their chances of electoral success (via
Dawn Laguens, executive director of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said the group is focused not only on the presidential race but also on key Senate races.
"Frankly, the radical nature of the Republican field and primary is introducing some real dynamics in the Senate races ... that I think some people didn’t think were necessarily going to be there, putting people like [New Hampshire Republican Sen. Kelly] Ayotte in a really tough spot," Laguens said.
Planned Parenthood intends to actively engage in key battleground states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Hampshire, Colorado and Nevada. Laguens said the group will spend at least $20 million on its political operation this year. In 2012, Planned Parenthood spent $15 million on the election.
The women's health care group is also shoring up its in-house talent, bringing on Matt Burgess, national political director for Everytown for Gun Safety, as its political director. Laguens said Burgess was an attractive hire because he has a history working on women's issues — he formerly worked in EMILY's List's political department — and a background working in key battleground states. Burgess managed Democratic Sen. Al Franken's 2014 campaign in Minnesota and also ran Maggie Hassan's campaign for governor in New Hampshire. Hassan, a Democrat, is now running against Ayotte for Senate in the Granite State.
So, they’re coming folks. The question is can Republicans run a virtually gaffe-free cycle, like the 2014 midterms, or will they screw up royally in a painful replay of 2012? It’s entirely possible.
Last note: The issue of contraception isn’t one plaguing Republicans. As Guy noted during the liberal post-Hobby Lobby hysteria in 2014, there is almost zero controversy regarding the moral acceptability of contraception with Republican voters. To channel Donald Trump, “tremendous” majorities of Democrats, Republicans and Independents (90/87/89 percent respectively) find using birth control to be perfectly okay. Do you know what doesn’t score high marks? Abortion. Twenty-two percent of Republicans and 44 percent of Independents don’t find legalized infanticide to be morally* acceptable. Of course, 52 percent of Democrats are fine with it. Though the number of self-identified Democrats has dipped to record lows.
*Yes, the majority opposes overturning Roe v. Wade, but similar majorities support restrictions on the procedure, specifically a ban on both second and third trimester abortions.