With Democrats seizing on abortion as their main campaign issue in the wake of the Dobbs decision, is taking a pro-life stance still a winning proposition for Pennsylvania Republicans?

On Saturday, hundreds of pro-life Delaware Valley residents are expected to take part in the Pro Life Union of Greater Philadelphia’s 4th annual March for Life. They will do so following a 2022 election cycle when many political observers believe the Republican Party lost races across the U.S. due to the abortion issue.

A new Gallup poll found the number of voters who only back candidates for major offices who share their views on abortion has soared to a record-high 32 percent. According to Gallup that intensity “is explained mainly by Democrats, while Republicans and independents have shown little change.”

Former President Donald Trump, who was a staunch ally of pro-life Republicans while in office, has softened his stance as the November election looms. He now supports allowing states to govern abortion, rather than a federal law protecting life in the last months of pregnancy.

What does all this mean for pro-life voters in the Delaware Valley?

Pro-life pundit Christine Flowers, who will be speaking at Saturday’s march, said it’s important for people who care about the life issue to show up and speak out.

“In a city like Philadelphia, where the loudest and, to be blunt, most obnoxious voices tend to advocate in favor of abortion, and in a federal district where the Department of Justice found it appropriate to prosecute a father of seven under the FACE (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances) Act for what is framed as domestic terrorism for protesting in front of an abortion clinic, we will be gathering on Saturday to prove that there is still a sizable contingent of Philadelphians and Delaware Valleyians who still believe in the sanctity of life, at all stages.”

Pastor Bill Devlin, volunteer CEO of Widows and Orphans, told DVJournal, “Being pro-life definitely helps Republicans since the majority of Catholic Christians, evangelical Christians, and Latter-day Saint members are pro-life. Those religious communities are traditionally committed to protection for the unborn and their mothers.”

Longtime Republican strategist Charlie Gerow said succinctly, “Doing the right thing never hurts.”

Kathy Barnette, a pro-life activist who ran for Congress in 2020 against Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery), said Republicans fare better when they stand up for life.

“As a proud and unashamed pro-life advocate, I’ve never found talking about my unwavering commitment to letting babies live an issue whether on the campaign trail or sitting next to someone on an airplane where I would routinely bring the topic up,” said Barnette.

She said the GOP likes to pretend that Democrats “will not talk about this issue” and likes to pretend it won’t impact voters.

“When Republicans pretend Democrats will not make this topic an issue, or when the Republican candidate qualifies his response versus being emphatic about their support for the unborn, Republicans lose on this topic,” said Barnette.

Mark Houck, the antiabortion activist Flowers mentioned, was prosecuted under the FACE Act and acquitted by a Philadelphia jury. This spring Houck ran against Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) in the Republican primary and lost.

“Being pro-life helps society in general, not just Pennsylvania or Republicans,” Houck told DVJournal. “Protecting all human life is an issue that surpasses party lines. It is a fundamental principle that enables humanity to thrive at all levels, from the womb to the tomb.”

He added having pro-life beliefs helps the economy and families. “[It] raises up fathers and mothers who can work together to provide a better future, strengthens marriages, and ultimately encourages lawmakers to enact laws that support the common good.”

Flowers expressed disappointment that Republican candidates seem to have decided that “full-throated support for the unborn” will lose them votes. She said the only way to make abortion more rare and possibly “eradicate it altogether” is to not worry about about which ways the political winds are blowing.

“Unfortunately, those who are not as fully committed to the cause as they are to victories at the ballot box will disagree, but the march is designed to support pro-life efforts, not to support the GOP in its bid for offices,” she said.

Tom Stevens, president of the Pro Life Union in greater Philadelphia, said about 1,000 people are expected to come to the march, though the heat might deter some. Along with the March, members are collecting diapers and other items for their annual Philly’s Biggest Baby Shower on Aug. 24.

“Last year, we helped more than 400 moms,” said Stevens. “And 300 were pregnant. And the purpose is to care for women and to connect them to all the resources that are available.”

Whether being pro-life helps or hurts Pennsylvania Republicans, Stevens said, “It’s always a winning issue for Pennsylvania Republicans, even if it doesn’t keep them in safe waters with all of their constituents. So, it’s a challenging issue, especially this season. But it’s still a winning issue, especially for the moms and for the babies that the pro-life position is all about.”

The event begins with a 9:00 a.m. mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul. After mass and a short break, the march to the Philadelphia Women’s Center will begin. The final destination will be the Independence Mall Visitors Center, where the march will conclude with a rally for life at 11:30 a.m.

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