Democrats and liberal advocacy groups have declared victory in what they called a Republican “war on women” and are celebrating the pivotal defeats of some GOP candidates who took rigid stands against abortion.
However, the issues in dispute — notably access to contraception and abortion — are far from settled, and social conservatives already are girding for new confrontations.
“We’re going back to the drawing board,” anti-abortion leader Marjorie Dannenfelser told fellow conservatives at a post-election gathering.
Dannensfelser said her organization, the Susan B. Anthony List, would seek to back candidates who can argue against abortion “with compassion and love.” In an interview, she said Republican nominee Mitt Romney was too defensive on abortion-related issues and mentioned Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Indiana Gov.-elect Mike Pence as potential presidential candidates who intrigued her.
For activists supporting family planning programs and access to abortion, the election produced a series of triumphs, starting with the re-election of President Barack Obama. Groups such as Planned Parenthood and the National Organization for Women campaigned vigorously for him, and he won about 55 percent of women’s votes.
The differences between Obama and Romney on some “war on women” issues were stark. Obama vowed to require insurance companies to cover birth control, preserve federal funding for Planned Parenthood, and protect access to abortion. Romney took opposing positions, and said he’d like to outlaw abortion except in cases of rape, incest and threat to the mother’s life.
According to exit polls conducted for The Associated Press and TV networks, 59 percent of voters said abortion should be legal either in all or most cases, while 36 percent said it should be illegal all or most of the time.