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Mitch McConnell: GOP Will Act To Limit Abortion If We Win The Senate

abortion-law

Over the weekend, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told a pro-life group that he would move to limit abortions if the GOP takes control of the Senate:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) promised Saturday to focus more attention on limiting abortions if Republicans take control of the Senate in November.

Speaking to the National Right to Life Convention in his home state of Kentucky, the Senate’s top Republican suggested Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has blocked the upper-chamber from voting on bills that would limit women’s rights to abortion, according to conservative website Townhall.com.

But McConnell said he would push abortion-limiting legislation to pressure President Obama to take a stand on the issue.

“For six years, the president has been isolated from this growing movement,” McConnell said. “He will be forced to listen to the cause that’s brought us all here this morning. Senate Dems would be forced to take a stand.”

On some level, I suppose I can understand why McConnell would say something like this before this particular audience. Indeed, it’s become quite common for Republican politicians at the national level to use strongly pro-life rhetoric when speaking in front of groups like this but to not really follow up on it when they actually get into office, in no small part because there’s very little at this point that the Federal Government can actually do on this issue. Each of the last three Republican President, for example, spoke each year at the march held on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, although never actually in person, but you can’t really point to any significant actions that were taken on their part to advance the “pro-life” agenda during their Presidencies other than continuing the long-standing ban on using foreign aid funds to pay for abortions overseas. The one exception to that observation, perhaps, is the ban on “partial birth” abortions passed by Congress in 2003, although its worth noting that that bill had bipartisan support in both the House and Senate and is one area where there seemed to have been strong public support in favor of at least some restrictions. For the most part, though, talk like what we see here from McConnell usually ends up being just that, and indeed I’d suspect that even if the GOP controls both the House and the Senate there won’t be anything significant regarding abortion advanced in the 114th Congress.

In some respects, though, that just makes McConnell’s comments puzzling. Yes, it’s important to at least give the voters that are part of your base some reason to be enthusiastic in November, and the pro-life movement is a large part of the Republican base that can’t simply be ignored. At the same time, though, rhetoric like this can just as easily be turned into a negative ad that can be used not only against McConnell in Kentucky, but against any Republican running against any Democrat in a Senate race. The audience for such an ad, obviously, would be the middle-class suburban female voters that Republicans have long had problems with, as well as younger voters who already had problems with Republican views on social issues. While it’s true that public opinion on abortion-related issues is far more sharply polarized, and equally divided, than it is on other social issues like same-sex marriage, the point of these ads would be to motivate voters who might otherwise stay home on election day to get out and vote against the Republican candidate because of the threat that McConnell made against abortion rights. McConnell is a smart politician, which is one of the reasons why he’s likely to survive his General Election challenge in November, so surely he has to realize how these words could be used to motivate voters who are more inclined to vote for Democrats to get to the polls. One would think he wouldn’t want to do that.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. al-Ameda says:

    McConnell is a smart politician, which is one of the reasons why he’s likely to survive his General Election challenge in November, so surely he has to realize how these words could be used to motivate voters who are more inclined to vote for Democrats to get to the polls. One would think he wouldn’t want to do that.

    His comments serve to motivate activists on both sides of the issue. In the case of Kentucky those comments firm up support for McConnell, however, in general and across the country, I’m not sure that there is a net gain for anyone but Mitch McConnell.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  2. Ron Beasley says:

    The problem the Republicans have is they have nurtured a bat shit cray base they have to pander to but in the process they alienate a majority of US voters.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 1

  3. C. Clavin says:

    Why do Republicans hate freedom?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2

  4. michael reynolds says:

    Great, this means about a billion more Democratic fundraising emails with scare headlines.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 1

  5. Yolo Contendere says:

    This is not going to cost him much, if anything, in Kentucky, and why would he care about other Senate races? He gets paid the same whether he’s the minority or majority leader, doesn’t he?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  6. socraticsilence says:

    I thought McConnell wanted to get the government out of people’s lives especially with regards to Healthcare.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 1

  7. Neil Hudelson says:

    @michael reynolds:

    At the same time, though, rhetoric like this can just as easily be turned into a negative ad that can be used not only against McConnell in Kentucky, but against any Republican running against any Democrat in a Senate race.

    Yup, I was wondering why I had no less than 6 emails from Emily’s list just this past weekend. Now it makes more sense.

    Unfortunately I can’t find any polls on the breakdown of anti/pro choice for women voters in Kentucky.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  8. wr says:

    Well, since the Scalia Court has decided today that the “religious beliefs” of some corporations outweigh medical issues, but only on medical issues that pertain to women while specifically exempting such medical issues as might affect men, it seems the the Republicans will be redoubling their efforts to insist they’re not waging a war on women.

    “Really, we love women — that’s why we need to take away all their freedom to control their own lives. Because otherwise they’ll worry, and then they’ll get wrinkles! And then who will want them?”

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 1

  9. edmondo says:

    In the case of Kentucky those comments firm up support for McConnell, however, in general and across the country, I’m not sure that there is a net gain for anyone but Mitch McConnell.

    Really? If you think Montana, Arkansas, Louisiana, Georgia, Montana, Alaska and South Dakota a re hotbeds of the pro-choice movement, you’ve never been there. He’s going for the whole nine yards – and Majority Leader starts with making sure he gets the GOP base out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  10. Tillman says:

    It’s a growing movement all right. How long has it been, forty or so years? Frankly, it’s getting to the point where it needs to start considering more visits to the doctor, maybe a colonoscopy now and then.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  11. Ron Beasley says:

    I have to wonder why this is coming up now. My X-wife had her tubes tied at a Catholic hospital 40 years ago. In Oregon all organizations have been required to to have insurance that pays for birth control for decades and there were few if any complaints.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  12. Tillman says:

    Why isn’t there a social movement against ED pills? If you’re against contraceptives as thwarting God’s plan, shouldn’t ED treatments be part of that?

    I mean, ED is the natural contraceptive.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  13. CSK says:

    @Tillman:

    I once asked a rigid anti-abortion proponent why it was that Viagra was covered by insurance from the moment it became available, but contraceptive pills for women weren’t. He replied, quite seriously, that ED was a “medical condition” that needed treatment covered by insurance, whereas pregnancy was a “natural state” that shouldn’t be prevented.

    Logic is not these people’s strong suit.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  14. al-Ameda says:

    @edmondo:

    Really? If you think Montana, Arkansas, Louisiana, Georgia, Montana, Alaska and South Dakota a re hotbeds of the pro-choice movement, you’ve never been there. He’s going for the whole nine yards – and Majority Leader starts with making sure he gets the GOP base out.

    You didn’t read my comment, did you? I offered the opinion that it may be a net-zero result from McConnell’s remarks. I DID NOT say that the places you mentioned were pro-choice. Of course places like Montana LA, GA and SD are going to eat that stuff up and get more motivated to vote on that issue. On the other side of the issue in populous pro-choice Blue States like CA, NY liberals are going to be motivated to oppose that stuff. And there are more people in places like the coast of CA that there are in Montana, ND, SD AK and a host of Red States combined.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  15. Moosebreath says:

    @al-Ameda:

    “Of course places like Montana LA, GA and SD are going to eat that stuff up and get more motivated to vote on that issue. On the other side of the issue in populous pro-choice Blue States like CA, NY liberals are going to be motivated to oppose that stuff.”

    On the other hand, Edmondo’s list is a good start for the states which looks like they will have close Senate elections this year (which is presumably what McConnell is trying to affect).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  16. Tillman says:

    @CSK: God, that is depressing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  17. CSK says:

    @Tillman:

    Isn’t it? I wonder how many of these yo-yos there are. Not that many, I hope, but they certainly make enough noise for a large mob.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK:

    I wonder how many of these yo-yos there are.

    About 27%. Duhhhh. ;-)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  19. Roger That says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    In a similar vein I saw today that Gallup shows “Confidence in Supreme Court Falls to 30%”, am willing to bet there’s a margin of error of 3% on that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  20. stonetools says:

    So a Republican majority on the Supreme Court limits contraceptive rights and Mitch McConnell promises to limit abortion rights. That’s some outreach program Republicans have there.
    Seriously, why do ANY women-other than rich women-vote Republican?
    Oh well, I guess Mitch McConnell is doing his part to get the country “Ready for Hillary.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  21. edmondo says:

    @stonetools:

    Oh well, I guess Mitch McConnell is doing his part to get the country “Ready for Hillary.”

    You do realize that the Clintons would sell out the pro-choice movement in a New York minute if it would get them one more vote or another campaign contribution ,right?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

  22. jim m says:

    McConnell is a smart politician

    That’s debatable. While the majority of Americans do favor some limitations on abortion vague promises will be taken as overreaching. And right now America doesn’t want to hear about this issue, what America wants to talk about is getting people back to work and getting the economy going again.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  23. Dave D says:

    @jim m:

    America wants to talk about is getting people back to work and getting the economy going again.

    That would require having a coherent economic plan which the Republicans don’t unless it is more tax breaks. So it is easier to fire the base up about meaningless* things than actually legislate. Immigration reform not going to happen, an economic package not going to happen, abortion restrictions likely debated, trying to repeal the ACA likely voted on.

    *Meaningless in the sense of things actually on the list of problems in America in the grand scheme of things. Making abortions harder to get does not solve any problem legitimately wrong with the US.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  24. Pinky says:

    @CSK: Actually, the logic isn’t bad. Medical care is supposed to help the body to function correctly, right? I know that Lil’ Blue is recreational for some people, but it is supposed to be a treatment for a malfunctioning part. Pregnancy isn’t a malfunction.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  25. Pinky says:

    @edmondo: If you look at Bill’s record, the pro-choice movement is one of the very few groups that didn’t feel “sold out” by the end of his terms.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  26. grumpy realist says:

    @Pinky: By that argument, we shouldn’t have any medical assistance whatsoever for pregnancy and childbirth, because it’s “natural.”

    Lot of dead women that way….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  27. Pinky says:

    @grumpy realist: Not really. Death during pregnancy or childbirth is a malfunction. Natural, yes, but a malfunction.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  28. Rob in CT says:

    It’s not a coincidence that there has been a huge anti-abortion push following the GOP gains in 2010. And at the state level, there really have been substantial “gains” made.

    Therefore, Doug, I wouldn’t be so cavalier about assuming this is just for show. I think it’s for real.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  29. Grewgills says:

    @Pinky:
    The pregnancy itself and delivery are natural, so by your birth control standard, care for them is optional and not a malfunction to be treated. If we follow that logic and wait for a malfunction before we treat those pregnant women and the embryos, then fetuses they carry that would result in a lot of dead women, fetuses, and infants. Now if you concede that pregnancy, though natural, is an essential part of a woman’s health care needs then that rather undercuts your argument about birth control. You don’t get to have it both ways.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  30. Pinky says:

    @Grewgills: I’m not sure, but are you treating the concept of malfunction as chronological? I wasn’t making that claim.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  31. Grewgills says:

    @Pinky:
    The logic of your earlier argument was the Viagra etc was given in response to a malfunction and so had more logical support to be included on health insurance than birth control because pregnancy is natural, not a malfunction. Pregnancy only becomes a ‘malfunction’ when something goes wrong. Since pregnancy (like ovulation) is natural, then by the standard you laid out prenatal care and delivery are less logical to include on health insurance than that little blue pill.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  32. Grewgills says:

    Please fish my comment out of moderation. Until then I will repost below
    @Pinky
    The logic of your earlier argument was the Viagra etc was given in response to a malfunction and so had more logical support to be included on health insurance than birth control because pregnancy is natural, not a malfunction. Pregnancy only becomes a ‘malfunction’ when something goes wrong. Since pregnancy (like ovulation) is natural, then by the standard you laid out prenatal care and delivery are less logical to include on health insurance than that little blue pill.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  33. Grewgills says:

    Please fish my comment out of the moderation queue.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  34. Pinky says:

    Still not getting it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  35. Grewgills says:

    @Pinky:
    You said that it was logical to deny birth control while providing Viagra etc because erectile disfunction is a malfunction while pregnancy is natural. That would indicate that you believe that disfunctions should be covered by health insurance while natural events like menstruation and pregnancy are not and so are logically less deserving of health insurance coverage.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  36. Grewgills says:

    I keep getting caught in the spam filter on this thread

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  37. Pinky says:

    Mentioning Lil’ Blue by name probably isn’t doing you any favors.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  38. Pinky says:

    I didn’t say “natural” except in my reply to Grumpy. The distinction I’m trying to draw, and I don’t even know if there’s a payoff to it, is between proper function and malfunction. You could say that menstruation is natural, so there’s no reason to interfere with it, but you could also call heart disease natural. So I’m deliberately not talking about naturalness. I’m speculating that the role of medicine is to get the body to function properly, and keep it functioning properly. If we go with that definition, I don’t see how we can consider birth control different from a face lift. Controlled flow, a proper functioning. Cancer screening, a proper monitoring of functioning. Hair plugs, unnecessary. Does this make sense?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  39. Grewgills says:

    Pinky
    It is as easily arguable that pregnancy and childbirth are as much proper functioning as menstruation. You have to stretch to make your dichotomy work for birth control but not pregnancy.
    I mentioned the little blue pill by name because that was the med that brought you to create that dichotomy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  40. Pinky says:

    First off, sorry for not being clearer – I meant that the blue pill isn’t doing you any favors with the spam filter. That brand name is a big no-no for spam filters. Probably no word less likely to make it through. As for my dichotomy, maybe I’m not making that clear either. I mean that pregnancy and childbirth are proper functioning, but contraception isn’t. I’m not saying that the only purpose of sex is procreation, but I am saying that diminishing the likelihood of procreation is not an improvement in functioning.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0