Albuquerque voters reject late-term abortion ban by a landslide

What does this mean for the future of antiabortion politics in Republican circles? Photo: AP

OCALA, Fla November 20, 2013 – A proposed ban on late term abortions in Albuquerque went down in defeat last night. Jeri Clausing of the Associated Press reported that “(i)n a closely watched, first-of-its kind municipal election, voters in New Mexico’s largest city have soundly defeated a ban on late-term abortions.”

“Voters… rejected the measure 55 percent to 45 percent following an emotional and graphic campaign that brought in national groups and hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising. The campaign included protests that compared abortion to the Holocaust and displayed pictures of aborted fetuses.

The same groups which advocate rolling back abortion rights in totality supported this ban. These organizations have been driving antiabortion politics as a wedge issue in Republican circles for decades on end. They have failed at the national level, find only limited success in state houses, and now are facing loss on Main Street

The minds behind antiabortion activism’s hardline fronts will stop at nothing. Said individuals care not for the GOP or even America where it counts. Rather, they are motivated by fundamentalist religious doctrines. For them, government policy is an extension of church sermons.

By promoting the legislation they do, anti-abortion rights crusaders believe that favor has been curried with the divine Antiabortion activism remains a hallmark of right-wing politics. In recent years, the American rightist base has become considerably more hardline. This comes as our national mainstream takes a leftish turn on both fiscal and social matters.

“Some on the far-right in this county were reenergized by the election of [Barack] Obama as president in 2008,” veteran Republican operative Fred Karger explains to The Washington Times Communities. In the 2012 presidential election, he was an openly gay candidate; the first in U.S. history.

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Karger continues: “Many were not happy about the historic election of the first African-American President of the United States. That’s when the so-called Tea Party really took off. It’s when people packed up their RV’s and went to rallies and conventions around the country with like minded people. The ‘safety in numbers’ feeling that these rallies provided empowered many on the far right to give money, turn out for events and vote for the very first time.”

Candidate pledges have made primary races a breeding ground for extremist views. Special interest groups often force conservatives to sign their names in support of draconian ideas. While such notions energize right-leaning activists, they tend to repel more moderate voters. Pledges have long been a favored tool of antiabortion groups. Breaking one’s pledge, even when clearly in the country’s best interest, can mean not just negative attention, but a well-funded reelection challenger.

“Candidate pledges have been around practically since the time of George Washington, only up until recently they were called questionnaires,” Karger says. “Special interest groups would send them to candidates to force them to take positions favorable to that particular organization. For example a no tax group would send its issue questionnaire to all the candidates, but the questions were usually just about taxes and spending”

“It would tempt a candidate for office to tell them what they wanted to hear. The only problem was that the questionnaires would often be publicized for all to see. Then those positions could come back to haunt candidates in that or future elections.”

“Now we have the exact same thing happening with these pledges. Selfish special interest groups ask candidates to sign their pledge so that they in effect endorse the positions of these groups. I wrote a column about that asking Mitt Romney to disavow his signing of the ‘Marriage Pledge’ by the corrupt National Organization for Marriage”

“Ron Paul, Jon Huntsman and I were the only active candidates for president last year who refused to sign NOM’s ridiculous and inappropriate pledge.”

Although activists ignore the national shift away from antiabortion zealotry, GOP leaders do not. Abortion rights are a motivating factor bar none for movement conservatives to claim that centrist Republicans does not represent their views. Consequently, these folks threaten to form their own right-wing purist party.

So, is there a serious chance that movement conservatives will split from the GOP during the years ahead?

“No,” Karger states. “There is already a wide divide in the Republican Party created by the far right. The ‘Big Tent’ Republican Party espoused by President’s Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush has fallen further and further away from their GOP. That being said, it is impractical and unlikely that the far right within the Republican Party will leave it. They instead will continue to try to take it over just as they have been doing for the last 50 years.”

Whatever the case might be, the time is now for GOP movers and shakers to adopt more mainstream stances on abortion policy. When the side fighting against a forty-year-old Supreme Court decision resorts to the local level — and loses there by a landslide — it really is time to move on.

Keeping antiabortion politicos at the center of Republican strategy is a plan for failure if there ever was one.

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Joseph Cotto

Joseph F. Cotto is a social journalist by trade and student of history by lifestyle choice. He hails from central Florida, writing about political, economic, and social issues of the day. In the past, he was a contributor to Blogcritics Magazine, among other publications. He is currently at work on a book about American society.

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