November 17, 2023

Washington Post Fact Check: No, 15 Weeks Didn’t Win in Virginia – But Life at Conception Did


If you follow politics at all, you’ve heard that some in the GOP are championing a measure that will legally allow and defend more than 9 in 10 abortions. Support for an abortion limit at almost 4 months, 15-weeks of pregnancy is popular with the consulting class these days and some politicians, including GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin who featured it in his messaging in Virginia, where he failed to flip the legislature.   

VA Gov. Youngkin’s New TV Ad Exposing the Democrats’ Abortion Extremism is Half Right


But not to worry, wrote Ramesh Ponnuru, editor at the National Review for the Washington Post, that radical idea is a winner. Ponnuru said:  

“Republicans have finally found it: a successful model of how to navigate the politics of abortion after Dobbs while still winning elections. They just haven’t noticed their success because it comes well-camouflaged as failure.” 

He continued: “Under that strategy, Republican candidates endorsed a ban on abortion after the 15th week of pregnancy, with exceptions for rape, incest and threats to the mother’s life.”  

The argument for this 15-week strategy materializes later in the op-ed where he continued to say: Eight Republican candidates for the lower chamber won seats in districts that had gone for Biden, too, even as the party lost seats overall. As the Associated Press reported, Republicans carried most of Virginia’s swing districts. It just wasn’t enough for a majority.” 

This is intriguing because we partially agree – reducing abortion as a strategy is indeed the right way to beat Democrats on abortion. We argued that in a previous blog: going moderate on positions that are deeply important to pro-life voters won’t turn out the base.  

In fact, polling by You Gov/Demetree Institute for Pro-Life Advancement has shown that heartbeat abortion protection limits and limits when a baby can feel pain poll at basically the same levels. However, the limit at the detection of a fetal heartbeat will save more lives as more than 9 in 10 abortions take place in 12 weeks. 

Additionally, we’ve seen strong pro-life policies win in many other states by Ponnuru’s own admission in this op-ed: “Its “[Ohio’s] Republican governor signed a law banning most abortions before getting reelected handily last year.” 

So where is the disconnect? It’s where Ponnuru says: “Republican Emily Brewer, for example, ran for the state senate in a district that had voted for Biden in 2020 and for Democratic congressional candidates last year.”  

Emily Brewer, among other candidates, were willing to take public positions to support Life at Conception protections if elected. And despite this position, she flipped her district from Democrat to Republican.

If a 15 week limit is the golden ticket to victory, how did Brewer win on such a “radical” position? How did several other candidates that did the same from places where we mobilized to tell voters the candidates positions on the life issue also make it to victory?  

The evidence of 15 weeks being a political winner has yet to materialize. In fact, it angers abortion lovers who call it a “ban,” and it discourages pro-life voters as it pledges to establish a legal foundation for almost all abortion. No one is happy, except perhaps politicians who think they’ve gotten a get-out-of-taking-a-stand-free card. That is of course until they lose.  

On the flip side, Republicans who run on strongly pro-life positions do extremely well in elections. Most notably, Governor Ron DeSantis who blew Charlie Crist out of the water by 20 pointsAFTER he signed a massive reduction in the abortion permissions in Florida. He has since signed the Heartbeat Abortion Protection Act, restricting abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat. 

LIFE is a winning issue, for those willing to make the case. The human rights issue of our day demands commitment and character from our leaders, and the Pro-Life Generation offers their support for those who take a stand.