Abortion Debate Returns to Presidential Politics

Wednesday, 29 Aug 2012 11:24 AM

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Abortion has roared back as a political issue that both campaigns believe can move voters.

Candidates and outside groups have spent nearly $17 million on the issue, with more than two-thirds coming from the Obama campaign and its supporters, The Washington Post reported.

That's almost twice what was spent on Medicare-related advertising so far this year, according to CMAG/Kantar Media, a media tracking firm. The company found that at this point in 2008, no presidential campaign ads had addressed the issue, the Post reported.

“This really is different,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion group, told the Post. “There were fits and starts of this conversation in 2008, especially because you had so many women running for office. This time it feels more extended and like an issue that will move voters.”

The issue has been pushed to the forefront by the fight over funding of Planned Parenthood, legislative efforts to define personhood as beginning at conception, efforts to require transvaginal ultrasounds before abortions, and Missouri Rep. Todd Akin’s comments about rape and pregnancy.

“These issues have been magnified, elevated and catapulted up to the presidential level,” Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, told the Post.

Both sides of the issue believe they can gain political advantage.

“This issue of women’s health is going to play a much bigger role nationally than it ever has,” Democratic pollster Anna Greenberg told the Post. “I’m working on multiple races where we’re going to run on this.”

Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life, told the paper, “We have repeatedly said that Obamacare is the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade, and that’s not hyperbole. By integrating abortion into healthcare reform, it was just a seismic kind of shift. That’s why we’ve really mobilized people to understand what is at stake in this election.”

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