Pro-abortion activists have gloated over their November 19 victory in Albuquerque, N.M. where voters defeated by a 10-point margin an initiative that would have been the nation’s first municipal abortion ban. The measure would have prohibited abortions past 20 weeks. By stopping pro-lifers cold in the city, the pro-abortion movement has claimed a strategic victory that they say represents a tipping point or a turning tide.
Indeed, after the victory celebrations, one would have thought the war was all over. The media were quick to point out the unpopularity of the pro-life message. Everything was done to portray the pro-life position as a war on women. The pro-abortion movement acted as if it had stopped this new threat to abortion in its tracks.
But the reality is far from what the media portrays. The victory in Albuquerque did not stop pro-life momentum. The late-term abortion restriction is hardly new. The 20-week ban has already been adopted in 13 states.
The battle for Albuquerque was definitely a setback, but the pro-life movement is clearly winning the war. With a score of 13-1 over their adversary, the pro-life movement has not only defeated but routed the adversary in this game.
Yet another factor puts the matter in perspective. These are not bans that have been put in place in the distant past. They are all recent victories since 2010. Seven of these state-wide bans were put in place in 2013. The latest ban was in North Carolina, and it passed at the end of June. Texas passed it a few weeks prior.
Nebraska was the first state to pass the 20-week ban in 2010. Idaho, Indiana and Alabama followed in 2011, with Arizona and Georgia next in 2012. In fact, 2013 has been a banner year with Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kansas, North Dakota, North Carolina, Texas and Arkansas joining. While in some of the states the law is being contested in court, the pro-life movement is keeping up the pressure.
Perhaps even more disconcerting for the pro-abortion movement is the fact that the 20-week bans are popular. They need to consider some disturbing demographics. In a June National Journal poll, support for 20-week bans was at or above 50 percent for women, those aged 18 to 29, independents and Republicans. When not even the women and youth are on board on this so-called women’s issue, pro-abortionists are in big trouble.
Finally, it should be noted that the Albuquerque election was actually a pilot project to take the battle to cities after all the victories in the states. It was not meant to be a decisive battleground or a last stand. It is a new frontier in which activists are testing the possibilities of bringing the abortion fight to local communities that are often more favorably disposed to the pro-life cause. With less than 87,000 votes cast in liberal Albuquerque, this year’s referendum can hardly be called a rising tide. It can be called an opening volley for the new battles ahead.