Democrats are worried that voters are moving toward Republicans as the midterm elections near, and President Biden on Tuesday came out with his counteroffer: A national law that would allow abortion up to the last day of pregnancy in all 50 states.
With three weeks before Election Day, Mr. Biden told the Democratic National Committee that if Democrats keep control of Congress, “the first bill that I will send to the Congress” will codify a nationwide right to abortion.
Not lowering the price of gas or home heating (see nearby), not rebuilding U.S. defenses, and not easing his regulatory onslaught amid what economists now say is a likely recession in 2023. No, job one in year three of the Biden Presidency will be imposing the abortion values of New York and California on Louisiana and Pennsylvania.
Mr. Biden didn’t stipulate what the law he’d support would look like, but it’s a fair surmise that it would be close to what House Democrats passed, and Senate Democrats tried to pass, this year. That bill is more permissive than the Roe v. Wade regime the Supreme Court struck down in late June.
The Democratic bill allows abortion on demand through what it calls “fetal viability,” or about 23 weeks. After that an abortion would still be legal if there is a risk to the mother’s “health,” which isn’t defined. In practice this would be interpreted to include mental-health or emotional issues and would contradict state laws that define it as physical health. The Senate version was too much even for pro-choice Republicans
who opposed it.
Mr. Biden’s speech is a political bet that stressing abortion will drive more suburban women to the polls and save imperiled Democrats. But polls show that, while a majority of Americans want abortion to be legal early in pregnancy, they also want more restrictions than the Democratic bill allows.
Every poll also shows that abortion is well down the list of voter priorities—after the economy and inflation. In this week’s Siena/New York Times poll, abortion ranks fourth at 5%, tied with immigration, as the most important voter concern. At least Mr. Biden is telling voters what his party’s priority is, and it isn’t easing the price of gasoline or groceries.
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Appeared in the October 19, 2022, print edition.