suggests it's a real possibility that California Sen. Barbara Boxer might lose to Carly Fiorina in November. A Boxer loss in a "safe" Democratic state like California would be a major symbolic loss for Democrats. It also would have major policy implications for the liberal agenda, including the always-with-us
, hot-button issue of abortion.
For this reason, while the economy remains the No. 1 issue in the campaign, the abortion debate cannot be overlooked as it pertains to this race.
"Losing Barbara Boxer in the Senate would be a major blow for the pro-choice movement," says Amanda Terkel of the popular liberal blog, ThinkProgress
. "Boxer has been fighting for women's rights since coming to the Senate in 1992, and she has remained one of the strongest voices advocating improved access to health care for women."
NARAL Pro-Choice California sounds worried about the possibility. Writing on its Web site
, the group urged liberals to rally to Boxer, writing, "Pro-choice Americans may have no stronger ally in the U.S. Senate than Sen. Barbara Boxer . . . She is the leader who NARAL Pro-Choice America turns to when we need a fighter on the Senate floor."
Meanwhile, pro-lifers are excited about the possibility of scoring a major victory – both symbolically and substantively -- by ousting Boxer.
"Barbara Boxer has been the main spear carrier for pro-abortion forces for years -- whether it's defending partial-birth abortions or promoting abortion with taxpayer funds here and abroad," says Steven Ertelt, editor of LifeNews.com
. "Boxer is such an abortion champion that defeating her with any pro-life candidate would be a crushing blow for the likes of Planned Parenthood, NARAL and Emily's List. But having a pro-life woman defeat Boxer sends a much bigger message: real advocates of women's rights are pro-life."
Penny Nance, CEO of Concerned Women for America, believes a Boxer loss would imply a paradigm shift has taken place: "For Boxer to lose her election would be a radiant reflection of the fact that more Americans are themselves pro-life. It will no longer be assumed that women politicians have to embrace the worst abuse of unborn children to be elected," she says.
Boxer has not only been a pro-choice advocate
, she has also been a vocal opponent of bans on partial-birth abortion – a procedure used specifically after the first trimester of pregnancy. Senate records indicate she has voted against such a ban no fewer than five times since 1994.
In December 1995, Boxer voted against a bill
to penalize doctors who perform late-term abortions involving the partial delivery of a fetus prior to completion of the termination. She also voted against
the Senate's subsequent attempt to override President Clinton's veto of a partial-birth abortion ban in 1996, despite the fact that the bill offered an exception when the procedure was necessary to save the life of the mother. Twelve Democrats voted to override the veto.
In November 1999, when a partial-birth abortion ban was under discussion in the Senate, Boxer debated then-Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) in an exchange
in which she appeared supportive of a position held by partial-birth abortion opponents -- that it was possible to kill a fetus that had not been fully extracted from the mother's body -- but nonetheless argued against a partial-birth abortion ban saying, "I agree with the Roe v. Wade decision. And what you are doing goes against it and will harm the women of this country."
Again, in 2003, when the Senate voted 64-34
for a ban on partial-birth abortion, Boxer voted against it.
Boxer repeatedly has referred to Fiorina's pro-life position as proof that Fiorina is "out of step
" with most Californians.
However, there is some evidence of awareness by Boxer's campaign that Boxer may be too far to the left of even the California electorate.
During a recent Q&A session
with reporters in San Francisco, Boxer said, in response to a question about abortion, that "to me, [the issue of abortion is] about whether or not a woman in an early stage of her pregnancy has the right to make her choice whether to have the child or not."
This implies Boxer only supports abortion during, perhaps, the first trimester of pregnancy. Could it be that Boxer is discovering that her position on abortion is also a bit "out of step"?