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Conservatives Crafting Antiabortion-Rights Message Ahead of Midterm Elections

Conservatives Crafting Antiabortion-Rights Message Ahead of Midterm Elections

July 25, 2014 — A "vocal group of social conservatives, dismayed both by [Republicans'] apparent dismissiveness of their passion and by the Democrats' success at portraying Republicans as prosecuting a 'war on women,' are rewriting the anti-abortion movement's script," the New York Times reports. The social conservatives believe that Republicans "say too little, and do it in the wrong way," according to the Times.

Republicans' rhetoric re-evaluation comes after several divisive comments on women's issues were made during the 2012 midterm elections that alienated female voters. Some Republicans believe that making antiabortion-rights language a larger part of campaigns will help rally the party's base.

How Republicans Are Refining Antiabortion-Rights Language

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, has coordinated roughly half-a-dozen "boot camps" across the country to train Republican politicians on how to phrase their opposition to abortion rights, the Times reports. During the boot camps, lawmakers are filmed answering a question about why they oppose abortion rights and then are critiqued on their answers. According to the Times, Dannenfelser has suggested that Republicans keep their comments about abortion to a maximum of two sentences.

Similarly, another consultant -- Kellyanne Conway, a Republican pollster -- has told Republicans to consider the word "rape" a "four-letter word" and to "[p]urge it from [their] lexicon." Conway also has urged them to challenge Democrats when they use the term "women's health," arguing that women's health issues "are osteoporosis or breast cancer or seniors living alone who don't have enough money for health care."

Marilyn Musgrave, a former member of Congress from Colorado and longtime abortion-rights opponent, has advised candidates to engage Democrats by asking, "Exactly when in a pregnancy do you think abortion should be banned?" Meanwhile, Susan B. Anthony List has hired a polling firm that found women switched their vote to a Republican candidate after learning that a Democratic candidate did not support limiting abortion after five months' gestation. According to the Times, Dannenfelser's organization plans to fund $3 million in political ads in Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina (Peters, New York Times, 7/24).