With her poll numbers down after the entrance of Rick Perry into the GOP presidential race, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is shifting her campaign message from a focus on the economy to the social issues that first launched her political career. In multiple town halls in Iowa this week, Bachmann reminded supporters that “as much as this election will be about jobs,” “we can’t forget the undergirding of our nation and those are the values, the principles that we stand for.” She urged voters not to “settle” on a candidate who lacks a track record of defending traditional social issues and reviewed her own accomplishments — from championing a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage as a state senator in Minnesota to advocating anti-abortion legislation in Congress.
“As president I want you to know I’ll fight for life and for marriage, because we can have a president who believes in the power of prayer,” Bachmann says in a new video, “a president who is steadfast on the values of life, of marriage, and faith and with your support for my candidacy for the president of the United States, this will be the year conservatives don’t have to settle.” Yesterday, Bachmann went even further, announcing that she would sponsor The Heartbeat Informed Consent Act, “a bill in Congress that seemed aimed directly at evangelical voters.” The measure would require all abortion providers “make the heartbeat of the unborn child visible and audible to its mother as part of her informed consent.” From Bachmann’s statement:
“A pregnant woman who enters an abortion clinic is faced with a decision that will forever change two lives. That’s why she must have the very best information with which to make that decision. The ‘Heartbeat Informed Consent Act,’ that I introduced today, would require that abortion providers make the unborn child’s heartbeat visible through ultrasound, describe the cardiac activity, and make the baby’s heartbeat audible, if the child is old enough for it to be detectable.
“A study by Focus on the Family found that when women who were undecided about having an abortion were shown an ultrasound image of the baby, 78% chose life. An unborn baby’s heartbeat can be detected as early as five weeks after conception and ultrasound technology is an amazing medical advance that provides a window for a pregnant woman to see her unborn child. My legislation will not only enable this technology to be better used to protect life, but also to ensure that a woman who is considering abortion is finally able to give full and informed consent.”
Bachmann’s support for federally-mandated ultrasounds undermines her strong opposition to government requirements in health care. Her bill would institute an onerous bureaucratic regulation that inserts the government into medical decision making and creates another level of unnecessary federal regulation. As the Guttmacher Institute explains, every state already “requires that a patient consent before undergoing medical treatment” and provides adequate and appropriate information about the procedure. Bachmann is seeking even greater federal intervention and is relying on government regulations to talk women out of undergoing a medical procedure — a decision that is best left to the woman and her doctor. Six states currently mandate “that an abortion provider perform an ultrasound on each woman seeking an abortion, and require the provider to offer the woman the opportunity to view the image.”
Bachmann’s new-found emphasis on social issues is not without risk, the Associated Press notes. “[P]revious candidates boosted by Iowa’s evangelical voters have failed to capitalize on that success once the campaign left the state” and voters seem especially uninterested in the message in 2012. A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll found that just 3 percent of Republican respondents said social issues were the most important issue affecting their vote.