With seven weeks to go before the voters head to the polls, Donald Trump has announced the formation of a new Pro-Life Coalition.
In a letter to pro-life leaders released on Friday, he invited them to join the Coalition to help make clear to pro-life voters “the stark contrast” between him and his opponent, a contrast he strengthened by making new commitments to the pro-life base of the Republican Party whose votes he needs to win.
Spearheading the new coalition will be Marjorie Dannenfelser, the long-time president of the Susan B. Anthony List, and one of the most respected and influential leaders in the pro-life movement.
The SBA List is widely acknowledged to have the best “ground campaign” of any pro-life group in the country. Since it was founded in 1993 under Dannenfelser’s direction, it has helped to elect more than 100 pro-life candidates to the U.S. House of Representatives and 20 to the U.S. Senate. This compares favorably to its opposite number, the pro-abortion Emily’s List, which was founded in 1985 and which claims that it has helped to elect 19 senators and 110 representatives.
Asked about her strategy for winning over still-undecided voters to the Trump cause, Dannenfelser pointed out, “The thing that few seem to be talking about and [that] must be stated emphatically is that we will live in a very different America under a Hillary Clinton Supreme Court. The Right to Life and religious liberty rooted in the constitution will be routed for decades. If not permanently.”
Like many other pro-life leaders, Dannenfelser was not originally a supporter of Donald Trump, supporting other candidates throughout the primaries.
But as Trump has clarified his pro-life stance for voters, Dannenfelser and other pro-life leaders have come around. In May, she published a column on the website Townhall entitled “The pro-life case for Trump.”
The contrast between the two presidential candidates’ positions, as they now stand, could not be sharper. Both are now virtually at one with their party’s platforms, with Trump opposing abortion (except in cases of rape, incest, and life of the mother), while Clinton, as Dannenfelser writes, “has moved even to the left of Barack Obama in her support for abortion on demand, at taxpayer’s expense.”
Clinton not only supports abortion on demand for any reason, but would also increase funding for Planned Parenthood, despite recent criticism of the abortion giant. She would also repeal the bi-partisan Hyde Amendment, forcing pro-life taxpayers to violate their conscience and pay for abortions.
Clinton has also made it clear that she rejects any and all restrictions on abortion. When asked on Meet the Press when unborn children have constitutional rights, she bluntly responded, “The unborn person doesn’t have constitutional rights.”
In his letter to pro-life leaders, Trump took positions that are almost diametrically opposed to those of his opponent. He committed to:
- Nominate pro-life justices to the U.S. Supreme Court.
- Sign into law the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would end painful late-term abortions nationwide.
- Defund Planned Parenthood as long as they continue to perform abortions.
- Make the Hyde Amendment permanent law to protect taxpayers from having to pay for abortions.
In announcing the new coalition, Dannenfelser said, “Not only has Mr. Trump doubled down on his three existing commitments to the pro-life movement, he has gone a step further in pledging to protect the Hyde Amendment and the conscience rights of millions of pro-life taxpayers.”
The Hyde Amendment was first passed by Congress in 1976, and forbids federal funds from being used to pay for abortions. Although it is not a permanent law, it has been extended each year in spending bills, usually without controversy.
This year, however, the Democratic Party platform, echoing the position of its nominee, calls for it to be repealed. Even Hillary Clinton’s running mate, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, who previously supported the Hyde Amendment, has fallen into line with the head of the Democratic ticket. Kaine now says that he opposes the amendment.
The establishment of the Pro-Life Coalition at this point in the race surprised some observers, since there are less than two months to go before voters go to the polls. Moreover, as Dannenfelser herself pointed out, “For a candidate to make additional commitments during a general election is almost unheard of.”
But Trump is not your conventional candidate, having come into politics late in life. Moreover, he has in the past stumbled in expressing his views on abortion, leaving some voters confused about his actual position.
Add to this the fact that this election cycle is wildly atypical. By this point in time, both presidential candidates would normally be moving towards the center to capture the remaining “undecideds.” Instead, with many of these being siphoned off by third party candidates, both campaigns appear to have determined that the key to capturing the White House in November is mobilizing their respective bases.
With the RealClearPolitics polling average having Trump almost in a dead heat with Clinton nationally, turnout will be key.
People of pro-life convictions constitute one of the most reliable Republican constituencies, making up one-third of all voters who say they identify with the Republican Party. Exit polls showed that white evangelicals favored Mitt Romney over President Obama by 79 percent to 20 percent. A recent Pew poll shows that they are breaking for Trump just as strongly.
“Evangelicals prefer Trump by three to one over Hillary Clinton,” Pastor Robert Jeffress said during a recent interview on ‘Fox & Friends.’ “The danger is not that evangelicals will turn out and vote for Clinton. The danger is they won’t turn out and vote at all and stay at home like they did in 2012 by the millions.”
For her part, Dannenfelser says “The contrast could not be clearer between the two tickets, and I am proud to serve as National Chairwoman for Donald Trump’s Pro-Life Coalition.”
The coalition will focus on rallying the pro-life vote in key swing states, according to the SBA List. Additional co-chairs will be announced later this month.
Steven W. Mosher is the President of the Population Research Institute and the author of the forthcoming book The Bully of Asia.