It started when Nevada senatorial candidate Sharron Angle suggested victims of rape should "make lemonade out of lemons" by having their attackers children, rather than allow them an abortion. Soon Colorado candidate Ken Buck was agreeing, as was Delaware congressional candidate Glen Urquhart.
As The Huffington Post reports, it's a new breed of Republican candidate: Pro-Life Without Discrimination, and its been ushered in by Sarah Palin.
RNC for Life has endorsed 63 House candidates who are "pro-life without discrimination" and heading into the general election. Edmondson pointed to Bill Flores (TX-17), Stephen Broden (TX-30), Rocky Raczkowski (MI-9) and Sandy Adams (FL-24) as especially exciting candidates to watch. Incumbents endorsed by RNC for Life include Michele Bachmann (MN-6), Jean Schmidt (OH-2) and Duncan Hunter (CA-52).
The candidates getting the most attention, however, are on the Senate side: Sharron Angle (Nev.), Ken Buck (Colo.), Roy Blunt (Mo.), Joe Miller (Alaska), Christine O'Donnell (Del.) and Rand Paul (Ky.). All of them oppose abortion even in cases of rape and incest.
Angle received significant national attention in July when she advised young rape victims to make "a lemon situation into lemonade" -- the "lemon situation" being the rape and the "lemonade" being giving birth to, and raising, the child. Buck has said, "I don't believe in the exceptions of rape or incest" and backs a constitutional ban on abortion. The progressive group Campaign for a Strong Colorado held a press conference on Tuesday with rape and incest survivors who oppose Buck's stance. "Ken Buck is in a luxurious position of not seeming to care of the permanent impact of rape can have on a woman's life," said one rape survivor at the event.
Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin has prominently backed and helped launch some of these conservative candidates this election cycle, so it's perhaps not surprising that this position on abortion is one she helped elevate. In 2006, Palin said she opposes abortion in all instances except when a mother's life is at risk. "I believe that no matter what mistakes we make as a society," she wrote in response to an Eagle Forum Alaska questionnaire, "we cannot condone ending an innocent's life."
But the extreme view for the new right may be turning off voters, and some candidates are already letting their rigid views loosen under intense disapproval and a move to the center. Ken Buck has already softened on his abortion stance, and with the onslaught of pressure from survivors of rape and incest, he may find that position evolving, too.
New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino is fighting pressure as well, from a coalition of choice leaders in the state. Via CBS6 Albany:
"New York is an overwhelmingly pro-choice state and Carl Paladino's victory in the Republican Primary is deeply concerning for the women of New York," reads the open letter, signed by various Planned Parenthood leaders and CEOs, state Senators, state Assembly members and other activists. "During his interview it became clear that Mr. Paladino is one of the most anti-woman candidates for governor - either Democrat or Republican - that the state has seen in a generation."
NARAL's Nancy Keenan points out the obvious problems that extreme anti-choice candidates will face in wooing their own core voters who believe the role of government should be as limited as possible. From the Associated Press:
"I think these anti-choice candidates are going to trip over their own hypocrisy in the next few weeks," said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. "They talk about no government intrusion in people's lives, yet they're wanting to interfere with women's very private medical decisions."
Candidates have six weeks to convince voters that they should vote for a politician who wants to strip away the reproductive rights of all women in any situation. Is that a position Americans are willing to buy?