By Jonathon Van Maren
For months, we heard that the Democratic Party had the “abortion advantage” heading into the midterm elections. Rage at the Dobbs decision, we were told, would fuel a blue wave that would hand Democrats the Senate and result in the codification of Roe v. Wade. Democrats and their media allies are leaning hard into this strategy even as the polling indicates the possibility of a red wave rather than a blue one; Joe Biden tweets increasingly desperate promises that he’ll “codify Roe” every couple of hours.
There appears to be several miscalculations at play. The first is that the Democratic position on abortion is popular. Despite having convinced themselves that this is the case, it is simply not true. A majority of Americans support laws that were impossible under Roe; every single Democratic candidate supports abortion until birth, and media interviews intended to showcase their abortion credentials instead revealed to many horrified voters that these ghoulish people don’t even impose what most recognize as prenatal infanticide.
The media, of course, has embraced its role as a purveyor of misinformation, advocating Big Tech restrictions on the pro-life message to assist the Democrats. Axios complained that policies against “graphic imagery” (read: photos of aborted babies) were not being applied or enforced; that pro-lifers are allowed to advertise abortion pill reversal (which, despite the claims of the abortion industry, has saved many lives). The “bottom line,” announced Axios, is that “advocates hope to see platforms invest in making their algorithms and moderation systems smarter on abortion information.” By “smarter” they mean “hide inconvenient truths.”
The most chilling bit of coverage, however, came from National Public Radio:
I almost didn't want to tweet this but it's something everyone needs to know. NPR on the radio this morning played audio of a woman getting an abortion. You can hear the vacuum turning on, crying, moaning, and the doctor telling her it's done.
Warning: It's tough to listen to. pic.twitter.com/nlSNz0m5Ka
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) November 3, 2022
NPR must have felt that this is hard-hitting journalism from the frontlines of healthcare and in some ways, it is. But presumably they merely hear a suction aspirator going on and off. What millions of Americans hear (as evidenced by the horrified response to this clip) is a young mother moaning softly as her child is vacuumed out of her, scarcely audible over the sound of her baby being ground into bloody pulp. Democrats can insist that abortion is merely healthcare as many times as they want, but the reality is that the vast majority of Americans do not view it that way—including minority groups they have long assumed are permanent residents of the Democratic Party.
As Tim Alberta recently put it in The Atlantic in an essay sounding the alarm on the exodus of Hispanic voters from the Democratic Party:
At one point in our conversation, I mentioned to López how the overturning of Roe v. Wade seemed to be muddying forecasts of a Republican romp at the polls in November; how some Democrats, particularly those running in wealthy white suburbs, were gaining momentum in their campaigns by hammering the GOP’s anti-abortion platform. López, who had been quite animated, suddenly lowered her voice.
“You see, that’s a perfect example. I’m telling every single one of my candidates here, do not talk about abortion in this campaign,” López said. “You have a lot of Latinos who are fine with abortion being the law of the land—but they are against it morally. They may not be, quote-unquote, pro-life, but don’t shove the issue in their face. Don’t force them to choose sides. They might not choose the side you would think.”
That, of course, highlights the Democrats’ primary mistake: that abortion would bring out voters in their droves. The reality is that most people are voting on inflation, and gas prices, and the bread-and-butter issues. And unfortunately for Biden, there are many typically Democratic voters who, when reminded of the abortion extremism that now grips the party, decide the that GOP looks like a better, less radical, and more humane choice.