Abortion Still at Issue in Several Midterm Races

New York, New Hampshire and Indiana are states to watch.

A pro-life demonstrator awaits the Supreme Court's ruling on abortion access in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., June 27, 2016.
A pro-life demonstrator awaits the Supreme Court's ruling on abortion access in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., June 27, 2016. (photo: Rena Schild / Shutterstock.com)

WASHINGTON — The issue of abortion has played a surprisingly limited role in campaigns for midterm and gubernatorial elections, despite predictions by pro-abortion advocates that the Supreme Court could be poised to revisit the landmark decision of Roe v. Wade.

But while the issue has had a low profile in national campaigning, there have been several notable exceptions in individual races.

Incumbent U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., who represents New York’s 1st District, was the subject of an especially pointed political attack for his pro-life views. The New York State Democratic Committee sent out a mailer containing a picture of a wire hanger, labeled as “Lee Zeldin’s plan for women’s health care.”

Zeldin called the campaign “the most disgusting mail piece I’ve ever seen in any campaign that I have been a part of.”

The second-term congressman has a pro-life record over his time in the House of Representatives and responded angrily in a tweet.

Polls have shown Zeldin with a narrow lead over Democratic candidate Perry Gershon.

In New Hampshire, in a congressional debate for the state’s 2nd District, Republican challenger Steve Negron confronted incumbent Democratic Rep. Ann McLane Kuster about her pro-abortion views. Negron describes himself as pro-life without exceptions and refused to say if he would permit an abortion to save the life of the mother.

Negron said that advances in prenatal care make it so that these situations are rare and that, “right now, we don’t get to this point where it’s so draconian that we have to make a decision that it’s the life of a mother or the life of a child.”

Kuster defended the legality of abortion by saying that she did not feel it was something for the government to decide and that it was “one of the most personal decisions” someone could make. Kuster, who worked for over two decades as an adoption attorney, said that she had worked with more than 300 women facing unplanned pregnancies, said that “it’s not the government’s choice whether they would carry a baby to term, whether they would terminate a pregnancy or whether they would place a baby for adoption.”

Kuster is expected to be re-elected for her fourth term in Congress and is polling well above Negron and Libertarian candidate Justin O’Donnell.

Two Senate candidates in Indiana, incumbent Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly and Republican Mike Braun, clashed over abortion during an Oct. 30 debate in which both tried to paint their opponent as inconsistent in their opposition to abortion.

Both are running as pro-life candidates, with Donnelly one of the few-remaining pro-life Democrats in Congress. Donnelly was endorsed by Democrats for Life of America, but the National Right to Life Committee gave him a score of just 40% on its 2018 senatorial scorecard.

In Donnelly’s last Senate election in 2012, his opponent, Richard Mourdock, sparked a national controversy after he said that a woman who became pregnant from rape was “carrying a gift from God.” That debate was widely credited with cementing Donnelly’s election.

The latest polling indicates that Braun has a slim lead over Donnelly ahead of the election next week.  


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