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Democrats Ride Abortion Issue to Victory While GOP Struggles to Navigate

Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

“Abortion is the No. 1 issue in the 2024 campaign,” Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in an interview Tuesday. “If you’re not talking about protecting women’s reproductive rights as a Democrat, you’re not doing it right.”

Pritzker has been an outspoken champion for abortion rights, just as Vance, freshman senator endorsed by Donald Trump, has been outspoken on the other side.

As regular followers of this column may recall, I took a special interest in Vance after learning that we both grew up in Middletown, Ohio, which, like too many other Rust Belt towns, has seen better socio-economic days.

Author of the best-selling “Hillbilly Elegy,” he impressed me with his rise from blue-collar struggles to a Yale law degree and the high-finance world of venture capital. Now he’s in the Senate, where I initially hoped he could help my old home state and the rest of us. His fealty to Trump quickly shook my optimism about that and, since then, his politics needless to say haven’t been my cup of tea.

Still, I was intrigued by his analytical assessment of why the political right on election night, in his words, “got creamed.”

“We got creamed among voters who disliked both Issue I (the constitutional change) and also Ohio’s current law,” which bans abortion when a fetal heartbeat, a controversial term in itself, is detected.

“Second, he said, “we have to recognize how much voters mistrust us (meaning elected Republicans) on this issue. Having an unplanned pregnancy is scary. Best case, you’re looking at social scorn and thousands of dollars of unexpected medical bills. We need people to see us as the pro-life party, not just the anti-abortion party.”

That’s fair. I’ve always questioned protectors of “the unborn” who lose their concern after the baby is born.

 

Importantly, too, Vance points out — as Trump has — that “you’ve got to have the exceptions.” Certainly, Trump is right there, as far as it goes for those on the anti-abortion side seeking some possibility of political success. Life is complicated, and so are many people’s circumstances.

And there was money, Vance notes. The pro-abortion rights side raised twice as much for their effort, another sign of how potent this issue is for Democrats.

For now, Dobbs has taken the debate out of Washington and returned it to the states. So far, voters have shown a preference for legalized abortion, although with some exceptions. That’s a rough compromise; for the foreseeable future, it may well be the best we’re going to get.

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(E-mail Clarence Page at cpage@chicagotribune.com.)

©2023 Clarence Page. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


(c) 2023 CLARENCE PAGE DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.

 

 

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