Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis initially dodged the question as well but ultimately said he would support a 15-week ban. Former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has said she would also support the ban but has emphasized that it would not be her focus and is unlikely to pass. Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy has said he would not sign a 15-week ban and said it is a state issue.
Other pro-life lawmakers intend to double down
Despite the concerns from some of his colleagues, Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, told CNA that the pro-life position is “not only the right issue, but it’s also a winning issue,” urging other Republicans to “in no way be discouraged” and instead “redouble our efforts.”
“[The] Dobbs [ruling] empowered the federal government, as well as state governments, to defend life,” Smith, who is also Catholic and co-chairs the Pro-Life Caucus, said in rejecting the notion that this should only be handled at the state level.
Smith said Republicans should “robustly call out the Democrats,” adding that “all but one voted for abortion until birth twice” and said that any pro-life lawmaker who “thinks that they should talk about something else … like inflation” should recognize “that doesn’t work.”
“That’s the absolute false lesson to learn,” Smith said.
Smith argued that Americans “aren’t as pro-abortion as the pollsters suggest” and accused Democrats of supporting “taxpayers paying for abortion until birth,” which he called “extreme and outrageous.”
Regarding the recent electoral losses, he said: “The problem is that they have distorted so well” and that “lying and deception sometimes has its moment of victory.”
“Our advertisements need to become much more focused and need to hold these extremists to account,” Smith added.
Where Smith did align with his colleagues in some regard was in a new approach to messaging the pro-life position, saying the pro-life lawmakers need to “underscore how pro-woman we are” and that this “needs to be conveyed with compassion.” But, he added, “don’t do that in lieu of defending your position.”
The changing electoral climate for pro-life Democrats
(Story continues below)
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Republicans were not the only party to suffer electoral defeats for their pro-life stances. The last self-identifying pro-life Democrat in the Virginia General Assembly, Sen. Joe Morrissey, was ousted during his Democratic primary by a whopping 40-point margin in a campaign that was heavily focused on abortion.
Pro-abortion Democrats won a narrow majority in both chambers of the General Assembly, which will prevent Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin from passing new restrictions on abortion. The governor and many legislative Republicans ran on supporting a 15-week limit.
“[My pro-life views] cost me my position, but you know what, I stuck to my values and my principles and I’m good with it,” Morrissey, who is Catholic, told CNA.
Morrissey was the only Democratic lawmaker in the General Assembly to support legislation that would have prohibited most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Lashrecse Aird, who defeated Morrissey in the primary, focused much of her campaign on abortion.
“If you’re not all in 100% pro-abortion as a Democrat, you’re going to be persona non grata in the party,” Morrissey warned, adding the party now embraces “abortion up until the point of delivery.”
Despite the results, Morrissey said pro-life Democrats should “stick to your values [and] stick to your core beliefs” but added that most will not do so because they “will get primaried” and be “out of a job.” The senator said he would consider running as an independent in a future race.