DENVER — Republicans have been accused of being extremists in the so-called “war on women,” but critics say it’s Democratic candidates who have the more extreme record on a key women’s issue: abortion.
Case in point: The lack of support among Democrats for limiting late-term abortions.
Pro-life groups are putting the pressure this week on vulnerable Senate Democrats to back a bill that would curb abortion access after the fifth month of pregnancy. The bill, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, passed the House in June 2013, but has never come up for a Senate vote.
The multi-state “Summer of Life” campaign launched Tuesday with a press conference at the Colorado state capital, where former Rep. Marilyn Musgrave criticized Democratic Sen. Mark Udall’s record on abortion and urged him to advocate on the bill’s behalf.
“The leadership of the Senate under Harry Reid, with his allies like Mark Udall, won’t even put that bill up for a vote,” said Ms. Musgrave, who now serves as vice president of government affairs for the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List.
“They’re protecting senators that are in states [that] are very pro-life. They don’t want them to take that vote, to reveal to their constituents how extreme they really are on abortion,” said Ms. Musgrave.
Mr. Udall is now facing a tough re-election challenge from Republican Rep. Cory Gardner, who’s pro-life. The Senate Majority PAC is airing television ads calling Mr. Gardner “too extreme” on abortion, citing his past support for a constitutional amendment that would declare unborn children “persons” under the law.
“When you think of Mark Udall’s record since he went to Washington, he’s voted against banning partial-birth abortion,” said Ms. Musgrave. “He wants our tax dollars exported overseas to promote abortion and provide abortion. Again, he will not encourage leadership to have a vote on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.”
The bill’s name comes from recent medical research indicating that the fetus or unborn child can feel pain at 20 weeks gestation. The legislation includes exceptions for rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.
Udall campaign spokeswoman Kristen Lynch dismissed the pro-life effort in a Monday article in the Denver Post.
“Coloradans won’t be swayed by radical groups like the Susan B. Anthony List. Voters know that Mark respects women and trusts them to make the best decisions for themselves and their families,” Ms. Lynch said.
Recent polls show most voters favor restricting late-term abortions. A Huffington Post/YouGov poll released in July 2013 found 59 percent of those surveyed favored a bill banning abortion after 20 weeks except in cases of rape or incest, while 30 percent opposed it.
Among those speaking at the press conference were Republican state Sens. Kevin Lundberg and Vicki Marble, Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life, and Michael Norton, senior counsel at the Alliance Defending Freedom.
“The legislation we’re talking about today is such a reasonable, modest step, a necessary step to protect unborn children who are fully capable of feeling the pain of that abortion,” said Mr. Lundberg.