Number of Pro-Life Women Elected to Congress Bolsters the Culture of Life

COMMENTARY: The surge in pro-life females in the House of Representatives provides a jolt to the movement.

The March For Life banner extends completely across the street as it passes the US Capitol building on Jan. 18, 2019.
The March For Life banner extends completely across the street as it passes the US Capitol building on Jan. 18, 2019. (photo: Jeff McCoy / Shutterstock)

In a largely-unreported-but-hope-inspiring victory for pro-life Americans, the number of pro-life women in the U.S. House of Representatives will more than double in the new Congress. The 2020 election resulted in 16 — and counting — pro-life female candidates elected to the House for the first time; 11 more incumbents held their seats, with three more races yet to be called at this time. This surge in pro-life female representation gives a jolt to our nation’s capital and to the pro-life movement.

In eight of the 16 new victories, women flipped previously Democrat-held House seats. Take, for example, the newly elected Rep. Yvette Herrell of New Mexico, who ousted the now-outgoing Xochitl Torres Small. While Small had a 100% approval rating from the NARAL abortion lobby, Herrell was endorsed by pro-life groups such as the Susan B. Anthony List and has a record of co-sponsoring several pro-life bills at the state level. 

There’s also the case of Rep.-elect Maria Salazar of Florida, who unseated former Clinton Health and Human Services’ Secretary Donna Shalala. In her cabinet-level role in the 1990s, Shalala took responsibility and faced criticism for the Clinton administration’s pick for Dr. Henry Foster to be appointed surgeon general, after it was revealed he had performed far more abortions than initially reported. 

Shalala also defended the Clinton administration’s position in support of partial-birth abortion as “emergency medicine.” Contrast that abortion extremism with the positions of Salazar, who claims pro-life values and says she opposes the taxpayer funding of abortion. It’s no small matter that it will be Salazar’s vote and voice in the U.S. Congress, not Shalala’s. 

This trend of voters choosing pro-life representation over abortion extremism is reflected all over the U.S. map — from Stephanie Bice’s victory in Oklahoma to Nicole Malliotakis’ in New York. This wave of pro-life women repudiates the lie that to be pro-woman means to be pro-abortion. It repudiates the lie that pro-lifers are a marginalized voice. The American people, who largely reject the abortion agenda, continue to speak — at the polls.

The election of so many pro-life women is more than symbolic — it is a victory that holds great political weight and consequence. As I type this, the resolution of the 2020 presidential election is coming into focus as the last votes around the country are being counted. And while court cases are pending, the vote tabulation points to a Biden-Harris administration. With a projected President Joe Biden in the White House beginning next year, the role of the U.S. Congress in defending life just got more serious. 

Biden is expected to take a flurry of executive actions that would undo life-affirming protections that President Donald Trump put into place — from rescinding the expanded Mexico City Policy, which bans the funding of abortion overseas, to reenacting the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate, once again jeopardizing the freedom and conscience of groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor.

However, there are other abortion-related actions Biden promised on the campaign trail he will likely fail to deliver on as more pro-life Americans are elected into Congress. 

Depending on the results of the dual Georgia runoff races scheduled for January, pro-lifers may or may not hold a majority in the Senate. While there is great optimism that pro-lifers are poised to protect their seats, if the pro-life candidates lose, Democrats would only hold a razor-thin majority in all three chambers of government. A narrow majority would stifle Biden-Harris’ ability to repeal the Hyde Amendment, codify Roe v. Wade into law or pack the courts with liberal justices. 

On the House side, it will still be a Democratic majority and likely under California Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s leadership — but as National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru told me on EWTN Pro-Life Weekly just recently, it also means “we’ll be in striking distance of having a pro-life majority in the House, and 2022 might be the time that we get that pro-life majority.”

While Biden claims to be a moderate, his abortion agenda is anything but, and projected Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is one of the most extreme politicians on the issue and a close ally to Planned Parenthood. But pro-lifers should be celebrating the certain victory that happened in the House of Representatives this year. 

The 16 women and counting who will make their way to Washington, D.C., in January were elected for their pro-life beliefs and will certainly make their votes, voices and views heard. The Democratic Party is reckoning with its numerous losses on the House side and would be smart to recognize they lost surely in part to their extreme abortion views. The party cannot politically afford to advance legislation that counters Americans’ conscience on the life issue — nor would it likely even be possible with the projected makeup of Congress.

When more pro-life women take high political positions, it is easier for us pro-life women in other spheres to be buoyed by these gains. The mainstream and entertainment industry can often make individual pro-lifers feel sidelined and marginalized, but this past Election Day tells a different story. The pro-life movement continues to gain momentum, and now we have given Congress a new mandate: Defend life or be voted out.

Catherine Hadro is the host and managing editor of EWTN Pro-Life Weekly, which airs Thursdays at 10pm ET on EWTN.

Newly elected Speaker of the House Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., speaks in the House chamber after his election at the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 25 in Washington.

Mike Johnson Elected Speaker of the House

During his first address as speaker, Johnson, a practicing Christian, stated his belief that all authority is granted by God and that leaders have a responsibility to those they govern.