About half all U.S. voters say that abortion is "one of many important factors" they think about when deciding how to vote. About one in five voters says a candidate must share the voter's views on abortion. In its latest poll on abortion, Gallup finds that 50 percent of Americans agree abortion should be "legal only under some circumstances," 28 percent believe it should "be legal under any circumstances," and 21 percent think it should be "illegal in all circumstances."
If you live in Kentucky and care about abortion, here's what Sen. Mitch McConnell just told a Louisville audience:
"I'm proud of my record and defense of life," he said. "If I was majority leader, we'd already have had a vote on it in the Senate. It's long past time for us to join the ranks of most other civilized nations to protect children past 20 weeks in the womb."
Despite virtually unchanged levels in attitudes toward the legal status of abortion since the mid-1970s, McConnell insists that there is a "growing movement" for banning abortion. As it stands, the Supreme Court has guaranteed the rights of women to have abortions in the first trimester of pregnancy.
I'm generally pro-abortion rights and I understand that the issue is a divisive one. Yet if Mitch McConnell thinks that foregrounding abortion in his tough election campaign is going to make the prospects of a GOP majority more attractive to most voters, he's an idiot. The economy, taxes, budget deficits, Obamacare—these are foremost in voters' minds. Raising social issues will serve only to spook the 75 percent of voters who already don't consider themselves Republican while doing next to nothing to goose turnout by the GOP faithful.
But hey, McConnell must know what he's doing, right? He's been in Congress for like a thousand years and has never been dumb enough to let principle get in the way of his voting record when it comes to reducing the size, scope, and spending of the government.
A number of states such as Texas and Virginia have tried to limit access abortion via the patently false argument that patients at abortion clinics have high rates of complications. That may be good political strategy but it puts mostly conservative Republicans in the compromised position of pushing regulations they would denounce in any other circumstance (it does the flip to Dems, of course, too). In Virginia, state data show just three deaths since 1974 among women receiving abortions at outpatient clinics. Watch Reason TV's "Abortion Rights vs. Women's Safety" for more: