At Least 78 Republican Candidates Would Restrict All Abortion Funding

Raw Story is reporting that a survey — first dug up by the Huffington Post’s Amanda Terkel — finds that at least 78 Republicans running for Congress “have professed to oppose abortion in all cases, including where rape or incest are involved.” The survey was sent out by The Republican National Coalition For Life, a political action committee, which “sends out questionnaires every election season to Republican candidates asking them to lay out their positions on abortion“:

Among the more notable candidates backing a full abortion ban are Christine O’Donnell, running for the Senate in Delaware; Rand Paul, running for the Senate seat from Kentucky; Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann; and Missouri Senate candidate Roy Blunt.

But the list does not include a number of candidates known to hold that view, including Sharron Angle, who is running for Sen. Harry Reid’s seat from Nevada, and Joe Miller, running for Senate from Alaska.

Terkel attributes part of the right ward shift to the influence of the Tea Parties and Sarah Palin, but it’s just as likely that many anti-abortion advocates were radicalized by the debate surrounding the health care law.

While Democrats worked hard to prevent the abortion issue from eclipsing the larger debates about coverage expansion and cost control, anti-abortion advocates almost jeopardized the entire effort. Conservative Democrats threatened to hold the legislation hostage unless leadership agreed to include more restrictive language to prohibit public dollars from funding abortions.

Ultimately, conservatives were split in two by competing proposals from Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) and Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), with the most committed group backing Stupak’s far more restrictive measure. Stupak’s ultimate concession to Nelson however — the final compromise bolstered the original Nelson amendment with a presidential executive order — allowed anti-abortion advocates to argue that the law still funded non-Hyde procedures and may have contributed to the radicalization of the base. In fact, the health care law, which specifically allows states to pass measures that would prohibit abortion in the exchanges, opened an entire Pandora’s box for conservative advocates, many of whom went on to pass measures restricting abortion access on the state level.

At least some of the Republican candidates arose out of this context and are now benefiting from the conservative enthusiasm to repeal health reform’s “abortion funding provisions.” And many are using the new-found enthusiasm to push far beyond existing law.