Republicans have struggled with effectively connecting with female voters over the past several years, and insensitive comments related to abortion access actually cost some GOP candidates their races in 2012. Nonetheless, the party has recently indicated it has no plans to back down from this issue. The RNC recently approved a “Resolution on Republican Pro-Life Strategy” that urges GOP candidates to speak openly about their firm opposition to abortion — and many lawmakers are already taking that to heart.
On Wednesday night, a group of potential presidential contenders attended a gala thrown by the right-wing Susan B. Anthony List. The elected officials — likely trying to appeal to the prominent anti-choice group, which is trying to decide who to support in the upcoming 2016 primaries — weren’t shy about expressing their feelings about abortion rights. Here are the greatest hits from Republicans lawmakers on this topic:
1. People who support abortion rights are savages who practice a “culture of death.”
Sen. Mike Lee (R), a Tea Party lawmaker from Utah, said that Americans who are supportive of life engage in “savagery,” and suggested that they’re furthering a “culture of death” in this country. Lee is an expert at construing all abortion services as bloody and savage; he’s one of the senators who capitalized on the conviction of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, an illegal abortion provider who butchered women in his unsanitary Philadelphia clinic, to try to construe all legal providers as the same kind of criminals.
2. Abortion rights supporters are ruthless Satanic worshipers.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) echoed Lee’s sentiments as he recounted a story about the thousands of grassroots protesters who rallied against a stringent Texas law that’s forcing dozens of abortion clinics to close. He described abortion rights supporters as ruthless, saying that he observed their antics over the summer during the debate over that law. “Arm-in-arm, chanting ‘Hail, Satan,’ embracing the right to take the life of a late-term child,” Cruz said.
3. Saving the unborn is the same thing as saving the elderly.
Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee compared ending a pregnancy to ending the life of a parent or grandparent. He noted that the arguments that women cite for needing abortion rights, like preventing financial hardship, could also apply to end-of-life care for an elderly relative who is expensive to keep alive. “If we teach the generation coming after us that it’s okay to terminate a human life because it represents a financial hardship or social disruption, what are we telling them?” Huckabee told the crowd.
4. Abortion isn’t a women’s issue; it’s a “violence issue.”
Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE), who has won endorsements from SBA List in the past for her 100 percent pro-life voting record, told the gala attendees that abortion rights needs to be reframed. “Abortion is not a women’s issue. It is not a men’s issue. It is not a health care issue. It is a violence issue,” Fischer said. Trying to decouple reproductive rights from women’s issues is a popular GOP strategy to try to win over female voters, but it hasn’t proven very successful so far.
5. Abortion rights groups have no problem with infanticide.
The recent controversy in this area isn’t constrained to the SBA List’s event, either. This week, Mother Jones reported that Greg Brannon, a GOP Senate candidate in North Carolina, has accused Planned Parenthood of having a secret plan to start killing newborns. Brannon, who’s backed by several Tea Party groups, cited a “controversy” over infanticide in Florida that was entirely manufactured by the right-wing media last year. On Wednesday, the same day as the gala, his spokesperson stood by those claims.