In the forty years since Roe v. Wade tens of millions of abortions have been performed in the United States.
One hesitates to reduce an important moral issue to politics, but, the truth is, the abortion issue has become toxic for Republicans.
The arithmetic is simple: count up the number of women who have had abortions, then add those whose sisters and mothers and friends have had abortions. Ask yourself this: how many of them are going to vote for a party that condemns them as baby-killers?
In all fairness, the 2012 Republican Party platform explicitly exculpates women who have abortions. Strictly speaking, this would make them unindicted co-conspirators.
Apparently, it is not a sufficient consolation. Questions of parental consent and who should pay get lost in the implicit charge that women who have had abortions are near-criminals.
Even if it happens that what the platform said and what women understood diverged, a politician should have sufficient control of his message not to alienate the majority of the population.
Many women, especially the young women for whom abortion might be pressing issue, are having none of what the GOP is selling on the issue.
Worse yet, the platform did not include exceptions for rape and incest. This allowed journalists to ask hapless Republican candidates about rape. To say that the candidates were not prepared is an understatement.
When Missouri senatorial candidate Todd Akin announced that pregnancy was nearly impossible in cases of “legitimate rape” he did an extraordinary amount of damage to the Republican Party.
With the Obama campaign ginning up the idea of a war on women, Todd Akin became the face of GOP ignorance and insensitivity toward women.
After all, Akin was implying that if a woman gets pregnant from a rape she was not really raped. If he was, then he was saying that rape is not really about conscious consent. Is anyone that stupid?
Todd Akin’s presence was profoundly destructive to Republican chances. I am well aware that he was denounced and condemned by Republican politicians around the nation. Evidently, it did not suffice.
The damage was done, and nothing short of drumming him out of the party or even running a third party candidate, would have helped.
Of late, Republicans have been gnashing their teeth over their election defeat. They know that Mitt Romney’s approach to immigration cost them large numbers of Hispanic voters and have pledged to do something to rectify the perception that they are anti-immigrant.
If the GOP wants to regain political power it will also have to find a middle ground on abortion. The demographics insist.