At March for Life, con­ser­va­tives seek to counter Democrats with adop­tion

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY RALPH Z. HAL­LOW AND MERED­ITH SOMERS

Thou­sands of pro-life ac­tivists donned scarves, gloves and knit hats last week to brave the blow­ing snow and arc­tic tem­per­a­tures on the Na­tional Mall as the 41st March for Life was punc­tu­ated by an un­usu­ally blunt ex­change be­tween the Repub­li­can and Demo­cratic Party lead­ers that sig­naled a shift­ing fight for fe­male vot­ers.

Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee Chair­woman Deb­bie Wasser­man Schultz opened the bar­rage, ac­cus­ing her GOP coun­ter­part, Reince Priebus, of ral­ly­ing “against women’s rights” and as­sail­ing Repub­li­cans for spend­ing “more time fight­ing to re­strict the rights of women to make their own health care choices.”

“This is not what the Amer­i­can peo­ple are look­ing for,” she de­clared as Mr. Priebus and other Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee mem­bers de­layed the start of their an­nual win­ter meet­ing so they could march in the pro-life rally.

Or­ga­niz­ers of the an­nual march launched in the af­ter­math of the land­mark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court de­ci­sion pre­pared for such rhetor­i­cal at­tacks, ex­pand­ing the theme of this year’s event to em­pha­size adop­tion as a pro-life op­tion for women con­sid­er­ing abor­tions.

With a mes­sage co­or­di­nated neatly with the march, Mr. Priebus and his Repub­li­can charges shot back at the Demo­cratic ef­forts to paint the GOP as ex­treme and un­friendly to women.

“I at­tended the March for Life to show both my per­sonal and the Repub­li­can Party’s re­spect for life and to cel­e­brate adop­tion,” Mr. Priebus told The Wash­ing­ton Times. “As a party, we be­lieve life is a gift worth pro­tect­ing, and the march is an im­por­tant cause.”

Hold­ing a sign that read “to the moth­ers of our 4 chil­dren, ‘thank you’ for their lives,” Jim and Ellen Storey of Prince Ge­orge’s County, Md., joined par­tic­i­pants to cel­e­brate adop­tion and fo­cus on what can be done to pro­mote a “cul­ture of life.”

“I sin­cerely be­lieve that a fe­tus is a liv­ing be­ing, and ev­ery be­ing de­serves a chance,” said Mrs. Storey, 66, who raised four adopted chil­dren along with two bi­o­log­i­cal chil­dren. “I never had that feel­ing [of re­gret]. It’s im­por­tant for peo­ple to un­der­stand that adop­tion is an op­tion.”

Democrats have spent the past decade peel­ing fe­male vot­ers away from the GOP by por­tray­ing the party as male-dom­i­nated, fe­male-un­friendly and ex­treme in its ef­forts to keep women from mak­ing their own health care choices when it comes to abor­tion. Ms. Wasser­man Schultz led the charge Wed­nes­day.

“As long as Repub­li­cans throw ob­sta­cles in their way, Democrats will con­tinue to stand up for women and pro­tect ac­cess to health care,” the Florida Demo­crat said.

The GOP re­sponse has been tepid for sev­eral elec­tions, but Mr. Priebus and the RNC sig­naled that they plan to counter rhetoric about a “war on women” with more ag­gres­sive com­mu­ni­ca­tions and em­pha­sis on neu­tral­iz­ing is­sues like adop­tion that share wider pop­u­lar­ity among mod­er­ates and in­de­pen­dents.

RNC del­e­gates were to con­sider this week a res­o­lu­tion de­mand­ing that the or­ga­ni­za­tion should not sup­port a “strat­egy of si­lence” when it comes to Repub­li­can can­di­dates and life is­sues.

“Can­di­dates who stay silent on pro-life is­sues do not iden­tify with key vot­ers, fail to alert vot­ers to Democrats’ ex­treme pro-abor­tion stances, and have lost their elec­tions,” the res­o­lu­tion states. “Stay­ing silent fails be­cause this strat­egy al­lows Democrats to de­fine the Repub­li­can brand and pre­vents the Repub­li­can Party from tak­ing ad­van­tage of widely sup­ported pro-life po­si­tions: to at­tract tra­di­tional and new val­ues vot­ers.”

Though Democrats have made elec­toral gains with women, polling sug­gests Repub­li­cans could re­claim lost ground: 57 per­cent of Amer­i­cans de­clared in a CNN poll this month that abor­tion is “morally wrong.” And 49 per­cent of likely U.S. vot­ers told a Ras­mussen

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