It’s Official: The GOP Is Bringing Abortion Back

A new resolution to be introduced in the RNC Wednesday encourages Republicans to “fight back” against the war-on-women narrative.

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 24:  Tens of thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators march along Constitution Avenue toward the Supreme Court during the March for Life January 24, 2011 in Washington, DC. The annual march marks the anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision by the court that made abortion legal in the United States.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
National Journal
Sophie Novack
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Sophie Novack
Jan. 21, 2014, 9:12 a.m.

Re­pub­lic­ans don’t want to keep quiet about abor­tion any­more.

A res­ol­u­tion set to be in­tro­duced by mem­bers of the Re­pub­lic­an Na­tion­al Com­mit­tee Wed­nes­day con­firms what le­gis­lat­ive trends have in­dic­ated in re­cent months: The GOP ac­tu­ally wants to keep abor­tion as a prom­in­ent elec­tion is­sue.

The “Res­ol­u­tion on Re­pub­lic­an Pro-Life Strategy” was draf­ted by Delaware Na­tion­al Com­mit­tee­wo­man El­len Barrosse, and co­sponsored by 15 of the RNC’s 168 mem­bers.

Abor­tion is gen­er­ally sticky ter­rit­ory for Re­pub­lic­ans, and their staunch op­pos­i­tion has promp­ted Demo­crats to paint the party as out of touch with wo­men. Ac­cus­a­tions of a GOP “war on wo­men” — as well as Mis­souri Re­pub­lic­an Sen­ate Can­did­ate Todd Akin’s cam­paign-doom­ing “le­git­im­ate rape” com­ments in 2012 — have made many Re­pub­lic­ans un­easy about ad­dress­ing the is­sue at all.

The co­ali­tion of RNC mem­bers aims to change that nar­rat­ive.

The res­ol­u­tion, first provided to CNN and con­firmed by Na­tion­al Journ­al, calls on GOP can­did­ates to stop avoid­ing the is­sue and em­brace their an­ti­abor­tion stance.

“The res­ol­u­tion is about how to talk about our pro-life agenda,” says Kirsten Kukowsi, an RNC spokes­wo­man. “After spend­ing last cycle watch­ing Demo­crats make false claims on the so-called ‘war on wo­men,’ this is an ac­know­ledge­ment that we need to take back the mes­saging and pos­it­ively pro­mote our pro-life agenda.”

The RNC in­tends to counter what it calls the “ex­treme po­s­i­tions on abor­tion held by Demo­crat­ic op­pon­ents.”

“The Re­pub­lic­an Na­tion­al Com­mit­tee urges all Re­pub­lic­an pro-life can­did­ates, con­sult­ants, and oth­er na­tion­al Re­pub­lic­an Polit­ic­al Ac­tion Com­mit­tees to re­ject a strategy of si­lence on the abor­tion is­sue when can­did­ates are at­tacked with ‘war on wo­men’ rhet­or­ic,” the res­ol­u­tion reads.

Re­pub­lic­ans have ap­peared to be more eager to ad­dress the abor­tion is­sue re­cently. An on­slaught of re­stric­tions on wo­men’s re­pro­duct­ive free­dom has passed in the states this year, with 24 states en­act­ing 53 an­ti­abor­tion meas­ures in 2013. On a fed­er­al level, the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee ad­vanced the No Tax­pay­er Fund­ing for Abor­tion Act last week, which would ban fed­er­al funds from go­ing to any health plan that in­cludes abor­tion cov­er­age.

The RNC is meet­ing in Wash­ing­ton to dis­cuss strategy and rule changes. The res­ol­u­tion will be in­tro­duced to the res­ol­u­tions com­mit­tee and will move to the full com­mit­tee for a vote Fri­day, ac­cord­ing to CNN.

The RNC gath­er­ing co­in­cides with the an­nu­al March for Life, tak­ing place on the 41st an­niversary of the Roe v. Wade de­cision this year. The com­mit­tee pushed the meet­ing back to al­low mem­bers to at­tend the an­ti­abor­tion demon­stra­tion sched­uled for Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon.

Kukowski says the the or­gan­iz­a­tion plans to dis­cuss the res­ol­u­tion over the next few days at the winter meet­ing, with new fe­male mes­sen­gers to talk about the is­sue.

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