News and Tribune


February 4, 2013

HOWEY: Pro-life movement an Indiana political juggernaut


If there is a political flaw in the pro-life juggernaut, it’s that the leadership is male dominated, which makes some pro-life women nervous.

U.S. Sen. Dan Coats, who emerged as Dan Quayle’s 4th CD district director in 1981 — eight years after Roe vs. Wade — sees abortion more of a personal decision than a political one. “In the 1980 election it became one of the two or three key issues,” Coats said. “There was still a lot of reaction to Roe v. Wade and a lot of effort by a lot of organizations, groups and constituents to try and bring forth a constitutional amendment to overturn Roe v. Wade. There have been several attempts at that. While the issue of life has been an important one, there’s been a realization that the public cannot garner the two-thirds necessary to enact a constitutional amendment. So there’s been a shift away from the federal level back to the states.”

Coats cited the 1992 U.S. Supreme Court case — Planned Parenthood vs. Casey — that gave states the right to regulate access to abortion as a catalyst for the issue to become important in gubernatorial and legislative races. “It really shifted the issue more to state legislatures,” he said.

This pro-life dominance in Indiana politics comes despite polling that shows a majority favoring the Roe vs. Wade status quo. In a December issues survey for Ball State University’s Bowen Center for Public Affairs, 52.2 percent agreed that abortion should be legal in all (22 percent) or most (30.2 percent) of the time. Another 40.5 percent responded that abortion should be illegal in all (15.4 percent) or most (25.1 percent) of the cases.

Two national surveys released in the past week mirror that of the Bowen Center. Pew Research showed that 63 percent do not want to see Roe. V. Wade overturned. In an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, seven in 10 said Roe v. Wade should stand, “the highest level of support” since the issue was tracked beginning in 1989.

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