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Let’s find common ground on … partial-birth abortion?


It’s good to be an optimist, perhaps especially in political office. This is what’s known as overdoing it. Xavier Becerra tries to dodge a question pointing out his radical position on partial-birth abortion by jollying Mitt Romney about finding “common ground” on the question.

Er … what?

That’s almost a non-sequitur. What possible “common ground” could there be on partial-birth abortion? Amputation of a limb while keeping the rest of the baby in the womb? Only the most radical of people could call this voting record an entrée to “common ground” on the issue of abortion.

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Just how radical a position is it, though? It has always polled as a fringe position, even during the Clinton administration, which also opposed a ban on the practice. The latest polling on this came last month from Marist in a survey commissioned by the Knights of Columbus. While the partial-birth abortion question never gets asked directly, the sample that has 53% identifying as “pro-choice” only gets 15% support for abortion on demand up to the moment of birth, and only an additional 10% support abortion after the first trimester. In fact, only 28% of Democrats support abortion on demand throughout a pregnancy, and only 44% support any abortion after the first trimester. Becerra’s out of the mainstream even with the voters of his own party, let alone in general.

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Republicans have organized their strongest opposition to Neera Tanden, but Becerra’s confirmation fight comes a close second. They have painted Becerra as unqualified to lead a health-related agency, plus too radical to work with an evenly split Congress. This answer goes a long way to proving the GOP’s latter point.

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