Election 2010: Pro-Choice Sustains Big Losses; Abortion Not Deciding Factor
Unquestionably, the biggest loss is the replacement of pro-choice, feminist Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and the pro-choice Democratic leadership team of Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC), and Assistant to the Speaker Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). With a virulently anti-reproductive rights leadership team of John Boehner (R-OH), Eric Cantor (R-VA), Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Mike Pence (R-IN), and Pete Sessions (R-TX).
With the 60 plus vote Republican win in the House (four seats are still undecided), the pro-reproductive rights forces suffered big losses...43 votes in the House and 7 in the Senate. Worse yet, some extreme right-wing candidates on women's issues have won, including Tea Party endorsed Rand Paul (R-KY), who opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest; Pat Toomey (R-PA), who was the head of Newt Gingrich's Club for Growth and is virulently opposed to abortion; and Tea Party endorsed Ron Johnson (R-WI), who defeated pro-choice Russ Feingold (D-WI).
In the House, 7 new anti-abortion rights Republican women were elected and 8 pro-choice Democratic women were defeated. All of the Democrats but one were defeated by anti-reproductive rights Republicans. Kathy Dahlkemper (D-PA), who is anti-choice and was a co-sponsor of the Stupak/Pitts Amendment, was also defeated by an anti-choice Republican.
But when you analyze the 43 losses in the House, abortion was not the deciding factor. Thirteen of those losses were anti-choice Democrats defeated by anti-choice Republicans. Perhaps more telling, 24 House Democrats who lost had voted yes on the Stupak/ Pitts Amendment.
On the plus side for abortion rights, three powerful Democrat House Chairs who were solid anti-choice supporters will not be returning: Ike Skelton (D-MO), Chair of the House Armed Services Committee who lost; David Obey, Chair of the House Appropriations Committee who retired; and James Oberstar, Chair of the Committee of Transportation and Infrastructure, who lost. Obey insisted on inserting in the House appropriations bills funding for abstinence-only programs comparable to comprehensive family planning programs. Skelton had fought the ERA extension in the late 1970s. These committee chairs, together with the late John Murtha, who was the House Defense Appropriations Chair, had been formidable opponents of women's right to choose.
Statement of Eleanor Smeal 11/4/10
Media Resources: Statement of Eleanor Smeal 11/4/10