The radical abortion lobby, feeling left out of recent Democratic primary debates, spent the lead-up to Tuesday night’s debate demanding moderators “#AskAboutAbortion.” It’s a fair point that the topic has gone mostly unaddressed.
They got their wish — sort of. There was plenty of talk about “reproductive rights,” “codifying Roe v. Wade,” and “women controlling their own bodies.” There was plenty of dishonest fearmongering. There was even discussion of packing the U.S. Supreme Court with an expanded bench of pro-abortion justices.
And yet, even when asked the most loaded questions, there was little discussion of abortion itself.
First, Kamala Harris decided to pre-empt the moderators. While Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders went back and forth over details of who will pay for their health plans and how the entirety of Ms. Harris’ response on health care was about abortion (“women’s access to reproductive health care”).
Later, she doubled down on her proposal to weaponize the Justice Department to strike down pro-life state laws enacted by democratically elected legislators — which made it safe for Mr. Biden to move even further to the left and endorse a similar plan. Finally, Ms. Harris bragged of her partisan grilling of Brett Kavanaugh. This could come back to haunt her, since polling conducted around the time of his confirmation showed independents overwhelmingly disapproved of the Democrats’ handling of the process.
Next came Sen. Cory Booker with a sad attempt to outdo Ms. Harris in pro-abortion feminism. According to Mr. Booker, two Planned Parenthood facilities closing due to their own refusal to comply with President Trump’s Protect Life Rule constitutes a crisis. His idea of establishing a White House “Office of Reproductive Freedom” sounds straight out of “Nineteen Eighty-Four.”
One by one, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Julian Castro and Amy Klobuchar pledged allegiance to Roe and the Democratic orthodoxy of repealing the long-standing, bipartisan Hyde Amendment and forcing taxpayers to pay for abortion on demand.
This leaves Elizabeth Warren and Tulsi Gabbard. Rep. Gabbard has been noted for alleging support for some abortion limits in the third trimester but still voiced support for “codifying” Roe. This position is untenable as it is Roe and its companion decision Doe v. Bolton which make possible the United States’ extreme status as one of only seven nations to allow abortion through birth. What’s more, Ms. Gabbard has repeatedly voted against the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a moderate limit on abortion after five months.
Ms. Warren seemed to be following Hillary Clinton’s 2016 playbook the closest. Like Mrs. Clinton, who said “abortion” 16 times in her first speech as the Democratic Party nominee to a gathering of Planned Parenthood activists in 2016, Ms. Warren did not shy away from the a-word.
Still, her appeal to the “hard cases” that make up a tiny minority of abortions in America was reminiscent of the final debate of 2016 in which Donald Trump graphically and memorably explained what late-term abortion is — what the Democrats vote for — suggesting that if she is the nominee, President Trump could defeat her, too.
Many commentators have rightly observed a rift on the pro-abortion left over how to talk about abortion. Some candidates try to walk a fine line between appeasing a far-left base and alienating mainstream Americans, including rank-and-file Democrats, with their deeply unpopular agenda.
But semantics is only part of the story. When it comes to their record, the rift disappears and they are united in lockstep with the abortion lobby. Every candidate who had the opportunity in Congress to support lifesaving medical care for babies who survive abortions has refused to do so. They have repeatedly voted yes to extreme late-term abortions. And they all want American taxpayers forced to fund unlimited abortion.
In politics, clarity is a gift. Democratic contenders are still working to keep voters in the dark about exactly how extreme they really are — and we in the pro-life movement are working to expose the truth.
• Marjorie Dannenfelser is president of the national pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List.