ABSTRACT

Conventional political wisdom and empirical political science research suggest that Democrats in the electorate are as pro-choice as Republican voters are pro-life—where both groups are mirroring the positions taken by elected officials in each party1 (Adams 1997; Gerrity et al. n.d.). However, it was not always this way. Even though the electorate sent pro-life Republican Ronald Reagan to the White House after his victory over the pro-choice Jimmy Carter in the 1980 election, the August 30, 1982, edition of Newsweek’s story, “Abortion: The Debate Begins” referred not to a GOP—Democratic divide on abortion but to Republican senator Jesse Helms’s bill that human life begins at conception and Republican senators Bob Packwood and Lowell Weicker’s filibuster of Helms’s proposal. At that time, there was not a significant difference between Republican and Democratic voters’ views about abortion (Gerrity et al. n.d.).