The Magazine

Reactionary Democrats

Why they can’t stop talking about abortion.

Sep 10, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 48 • By FRED BARNES
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

On abortion, as on other social issues, Democrats have a reliable ally. Whenever they attack Republicans on the issue, the media reflexively rise in horror at the GOP’s audacity and intolerance. When Brian Williams, the anchor of NBC Nightly News, interviewed Ryan the day after his speech accepting the vice presidential nomination, the exchange went like this:

Williams:  A lot of your speech was devoted to leadership. But that could be construed as ownership. Are you prepared to leave this gathering and own the fact that the platform of this party allows a woman who’s been raped no exception but to carry that child to term?

Ryan:  Well, I think the platform is silent on that particular issue. .  .  . Mitt Romney’s position is that there are exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother.

The media have their own abortion exception. They usually treat party platforms as irrelevant documents of no news value—except when Democrats accuse Republicans of going off the tracks on abortion (or other social issues). Suddenly we have a big story. But when Republicans flay Democrats for refusing to condemn sex-selection or partial-birth abortion, you guessed it. No news there.

The alliance between the media and Democrats went into high gear when Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin of Missouri talked about “legitimate rape.” This was national news that every Republican candidate in the country had to answer for. Sadly for Democrats, Republicans instantly repudiated Akin and urged him to drop out of the race. The Akin flap now lives only as a staple of Democrats’ speeches.

However much Democrats zing Republicans at their convention on abortion, two facts prevent them from making political headway. The pro-life movement is on the march, the pro-choice side is losing altitude. It shows in the biggest poll number of all. In May, Gallup found that 50 percent of Americans consider themselves pro-life, only 41 percent pro-abortion. That’s a new high for one side, a new low for the other.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.

Recent Blog Posts

The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 20 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers