Here’s What ‘Consensus’ on Abortion Looks Like

By Ben Johnson Published on November 16, 2023

After months of grappling with how to campaign on the issue of abortion, the Republican Party has found an answer. Unfortunately, it’s the wrong answer.

A Consensus Over Abortion

Nikki Haley electrified the chattering classes during the most recent Republican presidential debate with her plea for the nation to find “consensus” over abortion. Yet she defined consensus as seeing “how we can ban late term abortions,” passively accepting any outcome reached by the states, and opposing non-existent laws that “put a woman in jail or give her the death penalty for getting an abortion.”

Much of the GOP rejoiced, believing they had found their compromise. Talk radio host Clay Travis went so far as to proclaim it “the landslide Republican answer.” The answer did bring a landslide when Jack Kemp pined for “consensus” and told Republicans to use “persuasion, not intimidation” during his 1996 vice presidential debate with Al Gore. Fresh off his 30-state reelection, Bill Clinton went on to veto the partial-birth abortion ban numerous times.

A Vital Truth

As it turns out, depressing evangelicals, the party’s most active constituencies, does not increase your vote. That’s a vital truth for today’s GOP. The Republican Party has not figured out the art of ballot harvesting, or any other tactics that boosted Democratic totals when the votes were cast, or counted. That means the Republican presidential candidate will need church activism in 2024 more than ever — especially if it is not President Donald Trump, who is a one-man, get-out-the-vote machine for both parties. If the nominee signals the pro-life movement will get nothing at the federal level, Christians could reluctantly agree to focus our fundraising and get-out-the-vote efforts at the state level, too.

The Democratic Party Platform Does Not Represent Abortion Consensus

But even the seeds of error can point the way to truth. “Truth emerges more readily from error than from confusion,” said Sir Francis Bacon. The GOP’s confusion comes from wrongly assuming the Democratic Party platform represents abortion “consensus.”

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If Republicans want to enact poll-driven policies, here’s what consensus on abortion looks like:

  • 74% of Americans oppose funding abortion overseas, according to a KofC/Marist poll;
  • 71% of the American people believe abortion should not be available past the first trimester;
  • 63% of Americans oppose sending abortion-inducing pills through the mail;
  • 55% of all Americans support laws protecting a child from his or her first fetal heartbeat; and
  • 53% of Americans oppose forcing taxpayers to underwrite abortion in the United States.

The Democrats’ position — that taxpayers should pay for abortion at any time, for any reason, (until at least) birth — is the least popular position in America. Only 8% of Americans agree abortion should be “legal in any circumstances,” according to a Gallup poll. (Three times as many people believe abortion should be “illegal in all circumstances.”) A savvy Republican Party might point out the Left’s extremism.

State Ballot Initiatives

If the American people are pro-life, what accounts for recent electoral drubbings on ballot initiatives? Issue 1 passed in Ohio after the abortion industry repeatedly implied Ohio’s current law bans “emergency miscarriage treatment,” especially “when complications arise later in pregnancy.” The Issue 1 representative falsely claimed unnamed Ohio Republicans have “a fond interest” in banning “miscarriage care” during the official debate. The abortion industry hammered home that message by outspending the pro-life forces three-to-one (approximately $35 million to $9.9 million). Previous state ballot fights featured the same lies, from the same coalition, financed by larger margins. The Republican National Committee has stood aloof as Democrats pour millions into abortion-themed messages in one state after another.

Are Republicans Powerless to Protect Life?

As the money flows to only one side, Haley claims Republicans are powerless to protect life even if they win national races. All pro-life legislation is on hold until Republicans hold more seats in the evenly divided Senate than they have held in a century. “We haven’t had 60 Senate votes in over 100 years,” she said, “so no Republican president can ban abortions.” Yet President George W. Bush banned partial-birth abortions in 2003 without 60 pro-life senators. Republicans succeeded when they joined with the grassroots pro-life movement to make the brutality of abortion visible. By 2000, two-thirds of Americans opposed the gruesome procedure. The procedure became so toxic that 17 Democrats — including Joe Biden and Patrick Leahy — crossed the aisle to support the legislation (and one, future vice presidential nominee John Edwards, skipped the vote).

Humanizing Babies

The GOP/pro-life movement’s combined message accomplished the most redundant undertaking of (to use NARAL’s phrase) “humanizing fetuses.” And it can do far earlier than the “late-term.” Ultrasound images of unborn babies sucking their thumbs, reacting to their mother’s laughter — and desperately trying to avoid the abortionist’s instruments — show the invaluable vulnerability of children at earlier stages of development. Accurate and realistic fetal models allow voters to hold a realistic simulation of in-utero life in their own two hands.

Finding Courage

Republicans cannot wait for the pro-life movement to take the lead and deliver the voters. Nor can they wish away the issue through silence. The Democrats, who have made abortion the battleground of the last two elections, will give no quarter. It’s time Republicans found their courage and returned fire.

Protecting the innocent unborn is morally right and, approached correctly, politically beneficial. The GOP would be foolish to abandon its present, and future, voters.


Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand. He previously worked as a reporter for The Daily Wire, as U.S. Bureau Chief of LifeSiteNews, as Executive Editor at the Acton Institute, and as Managing Editor of He is currently pastor of Christ the Saviour Orthodox Church. He lives in Ohio with his wife and four children and his children’s three cats.

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