The midterm election was a tidal wave across the nation, not just at the federal level where members of the Republican Party took control of the U.S. Senate by a huge margin but also added to their large majority in the House, but also at the state level.
Officials with the National Conference of State Legislatures reported the party gained hundreds of seats in state legislatures and it took control of another 10 state chambers, including the Maine Senate and House, the Nevada Senate and more.
Republicans now control 67 state chambers while the Democrats control 28. Prior to the election, Republicans had a 57-41 advantage, officials reported.
So groups that work to support life, and oppose the abortion agenda that has been present for the first six years of the Obama White House, are optimistic they now will be able to make advances.
From the March for Life Education and Defense Fund was this perspective:
“A lesson from the election is that being pro-life beats being pro-abortion.”
The National Right to Life PAC said, “A new post-election poll of actual voters conducted by The Polling Company/WomanTrend, found that the issue of abortion once again played a key role in the mid-term elections.”
And Susan B. Anthony List noted it was successful in “several major victories in its efforts to elect pro-life women candidates and to defeat pro-abortion women candidates to Congress and statewide office.”
Pro-life political analysts continue studying the results to determine if they will translate into action, and what action.
Operation Rescue Senior Policy Adviser Cheryl Sullenger says the pro-life movement has the opportunity to make gains at all levels.
“There is a real sense of optimism. New opportunities have opened at the state and federal levels,” Sullenger said.
Father Terry Gensemer, the executive director of CEC for Life, the pro-life ministry of the Charismatic Episcopal Church, sees a lot of enthusiasm.
“With so many pro-life candidates being elected at once, I believe there will be, at least, a temporary enthusiasm for pro-life initiatives in the nation,” Gensemer said.
Sullenger adds that the pro-life movement would be wise to focus on the statehouses.
“I think there is still a sense that the state and local levels are where we will continue to make our greatest advances,” she said. “We should continue to see more and more state legislation, especially in states that ‘flipped’ during the mid-term elections, and maybe even a thing or two on the federal level.”
Gensemer adds that expectations are different for the federal and state levels. He says he’s not a positive about any action at the federal level.
Abortion and using public funds for that has been a priority for President Obama. In his signature law, Obamacare, for example, there exist many channels for funding abortion, some even installed secretly with requirements that consumers be denied the knowledge that they are making mandatory payments for abortion.
The subject has been the focal point for a multitude of lawsuits, and the U.S. Supreme Court has reined in Obama’s agenda to require people with religious objections to pay for the procedures anyway.
“To me, expectations for more action in Congress and in the state legislatures are two very separate elements. On a federal level, proclaimed pro-life officials, at least according to past behavior, have not been as committed or as effective in following through to the end with pro-life initiatives,” Gensemer said.
Gensemer adds that more positive and long-term action is possible at the state level.
“Their state-level counterparts, however, have been widely successful in passing solid pro-life bills. The pro-life cause has seen far more victories in individual states, including the closure of sub-par abortion clinics through the passage of stricter safety standards, than we have seen in Congress. I expect this state-level trend to continue with sustainable, positive results,” Gensemer said.
WND columnist Nat Henthoff noted right after the election in a commentary that “Not only did Obama lose, but so did abortion.”
He wrote, “For example, National Right to Life, which describes itself as working ‘through legislation and education to protect innocent human life from abortion, infanticide, assisted suicide and euthanasia,’ summarizes the midterms as such: ‘Despite being vastly overspent by pro-abortion organizations such as Planned Parenthood and EMILY’s List, pro-life candidates won … by significant margins. There were 26 races in which a candidate supported by National Right to Life was running against a candidate supported by the pro-abortion (and pro-Obama) PAC EMILY’s List. Nineteen (73 percent) of the National Right to Life candidates won.'”
“Readers who were heretofore unaware should know by this point that I’m a pro-life atheist,” Henthoff wrote. “Now dig this, which was largely unreported by the media covering the midterm elections: ‘National Right to Life’s political committees were actively involved in 74 races. In those races, 53 (72 percent) pro-life candidates prevailed, including pro-life Senate candidates in Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia.'”
He noted that Obama, while a state senator in Illinois, “voted three times against versions of the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act, which did not pass until 2005. This legislation mandated that if a live baby fully emerged as a result of a failed abortion, its life would be saved.”
“I am convinced that disobeying that law is tantamount to infanticide, and I have been writing about it in this column and other publications over the past few years. As I reported in the Winter-Spring 2009 issue of Human Life Review about Obama’s unyielding support of abortion, including the high percentage of abortions among black women (‘President Obama and ‘Black Genocide”), I spoke with a registered nurse who worked in the Labor and Delivery Department at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois, and had involuntarily taken part in a botched abortion,” he explained.
Hentoff elaborated, “One of the babies ‘was left to die on the counter of the soiled utility room wrapped in a disposable towel. This baby was accidentally thrown in the garbage, and when they later were going through the trash to find the baby, the baby fell out of the towel and on to the floor.'”
Sullenger and Gensemer said their assessments are based on both recent successes at the state level and the results of the midterm election.
Politico also reported that Republicans won 23 governor’s seats in the midterms and Democrats won 10. This gives Republicans the governor’s office in 37 of the 50 states.
Vermont’s gubernatorial election will be decided when the legislature, controlled by the Democratic Party. convenes in January.
Regardless of any outstanding election results, Sullenger says the new pro-life lawmakers should act quickly.
“As a whole, there is a sense that now is the time to press our advantage,” Sullenger said.
Life News Editor Steven Ertelt still has concerns about the national level.
“We’ll see several pro-life bills and riders to budget items pass and be sent to Obama to veto,” Ertelt said.
Gensemer agrees, adding that the Obama administration is a major obstacle to the pro-life movement.
“It is highly likely, if not guaranteed, that any pro-life bill passed by Congress under the current administration will be vetoed by the president,” Gensemer said.
But he says advocates should not stop trying.
“That should not affect the willingness or commitment of any elected official who has come to office on the promise of working to promote and build a culture of life. Those within the pro-life cause, political or otherwise, must endeavor unceasingly to keep the sanctity of life in the forefront of America’s mind, no matter who is president,” Gensemer said.
Such issues often end up in courts, and Sullenger says her group stands ready to defend the bills.
“If the need arises, Operation Rescue stands willing to aid in the legal defense of any pro-life legislation that may be under attack,” Sullenger said.
American Center for Law and Justice Executive Director Jordan Sekulow says that since 2010, one of the biggest barriers to the pro-life movement has been the Affordable Care Act.
“Ever since the time when Obamacare was being considered by Congress, it has been clear that the vast majority of Americans do not want their tax dollars subsidizing abortion or abortion coverage. This is true for even a large segment of the pro-choice community,” he said. “Even the president recognized this fact and promised to keep abortion out of the healthcare law. That promise has proven to be an empty one, as Americans are subsidizing abortion coverage in countless Obamacare plans.”
He said that was one of the reasons for the midterm results.
“Quite simply, the American people have sent pro-life legislators to Washington, D.C. to stop this taxpayer funding of abortion,” he said. “We certainly stand with the American people in calling on the new Congress to come together in support of what an overwhelming majority of the American people are demanding – no taxpayer dollars for abortion or abortion coverage.”