There will be a record number of antiabortion women in the House

with Alexandra Ellerbeck

Republicans did better in House contests than expected — and that includes women who oppose abortion rights.

Pending the outcome of a few more races, antiabortion women in the House will more than double their ranks, from holding just 13 seats now to perhaps as many as 30 seats next year.

These women, all Republicans, will still be outnumbered about 3 to 1 by Democratic women in the House, who uniformly support abortion rights. But their victories came as a boon — and something of a surprise — to antiabortion activists who have long struggled to recruit female politicians sympathetic to their cause.

Stephanie Bice, who won the seat of Rep. Kendra Horn (D-Okla.), talks to the media at the Edmond Conference Center in Oklahoma City on Election Day. (Garett Fisbeck/AP)

© Garett Fisbeck/AP
Stephanie Bice, who won the seat of Rep. Kendra Horn (D-Okla.), talks to the media at the Edmond Conference Center in Oklahoma City on Election Day. (Garett Fisbeck/AP)

“Given all the prognostications about a blue wave, we didn’t foresee we would have a historic number of pro-life women,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List, a group that seeks to elect antiabortion candidates. “Our women are not just kind of pro-life, but really pro-life. It’s a new day where the Republican Party has completely embraced the issue.”

Groups spent heavily this year to elect antiabortion women – although most of the spending went toward Senate, not House, campaigns.

SBA List set its own spending record in the 2020 campaign cycle, investing $52 million mostly aimed at Senate races and the presidential contest. Its spending exceeded that of the Planned Parenthood, which announced a $45 million spend over the cycle.

Another major player in getting more antiabortion women to Washington was Winning for Women Action Fund, the first GOP super PAC dedicated to electing female candidates.

The political action committee formed in 2017 as a counter to Emily’s List — which works to elect abortion rights-supporting candidates — and aims to narrow the gap between Republican and Democratic women in public office. Winning for Women spent nearly $3 million supporting Republican female candidates, my colleague Paulina Firozi reports. 

In one of House Republicans’ biggest victories, Michelle Fischbach ousted 15-term Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.). Other female freshmen will include Yvette Herrell, a member of the Cherokee Nation in New Mexico; Cuban American journalist Maria Elvira Salazar, who defeated Rep. Donna Shalala (D-Fla.), President Bill Clinton’s former health secretary; and Stephanie Bice in Oklahoma, who will be the first Iranian American to serve in Congress.

Former congresswoman Barbara Comstock (R-Va.):

So far, 27 House incumbents and newcomers endorsed by SBA List and Winning for Women have won their races. They’re hoping to add three more, in races yet to be decided in Iowa’s 2nd District, New York’s 22nd District and California’s 39th District.

“This is the smashing success story of the 2020 congressional election cycle,” Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) told Paulina.

a close up of a woman: Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) speaks during a House Intelligence Committee meeting. (Alex Brandon/AP)

© Alex Brandon/AP
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) speaks during a House Intelligence Committee meeting. (Alex Brandon/AP)

Dannenfelser views it as a turning point for Republican women.

The Republican

Read more

U.S. joins global anti-abortion pact as Polish women march to protest clampdown

The United States on Thursday signed an anti-abortion declaration along with more than 30 countries representing over 1.6 billion people.

Overnight, women in Poland took to the streets to protest a clamp-down on abortion rights in that country.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Health Secretary Alex Azar took part in a virtual signing ceremony of the “Geneva Consensus Declaration.” Egypt, Uganda, Brazil, Hungry and Indonesia co-sponsored the pact along with the U.S. Thirty-two nations signed it.

The non-binding declaration says it seeks to improve women’s health, preserve human life and strengthen the family unit.

“We, the representatives of our sovereign nations do hereby declare in mutual friendship and respect, our commitment to work together to: Reaffirm that there is no international right to abortion,” the declaration read.

“Under President Trump’s leadership, the United States has defended the dignity of human life everywhere and always,” Pompeo said in his remarks at the signing. “We’ve also mounted an unprecedented defense of the unborn abroad.”

Abortion rouses conservative voters each election and has come to the fore in recent weeks with President Donald Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to replace liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. Democrats have grilled her on abortion amid fears the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling could be overturned if she is confirmed.

After the Geneva Consensus Declaration signing was announced, Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he was “disturbed” by the announcement and feared the U.S.’s actions would “undercut” the rights of millions.

Download the NBC News app for breaking news and politics

“The Geneva Consensus Declaration attempts to undermine bedrock human rights agreements and women’s health and reproductive rights here at home and around the world,” Cardin said in a statement. “Fortunately, same-sex marriage and abortion remain legal in the United States.”

In the Polish capital Warsaw crowds protested after that country’s Constitutional Court ruled abortion due to fetal defects was unconstitutional. Poland is now also a signatory of the Geneva Consensus Declaration.

The Polish court’s decision banned one of the few remaining legal grounds available for ending a pregnancy in the largely Catholic country. Once the ruling comes into effect, it will mean abortion will only be permissible in Poland in the case of rape, incest or a threat to the mother’s health and life.

“We mourn the extinguishing of Polish women’s remaining sliver of access to abortion care,” said Irene Donadio of the International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network.

The reproductive health and rights group also condemned the Geneva Consensus Declaration as “a farcical Trump-led document with no legal basis” and said the pledge was signed by “reproductive bullies” and “regressive governments from around the world.”

Protestors in Warsaw face off with riot police guarding the house of Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party, during a demonstration on Thursday night against a decision by the Constitutional Court to restrict abortions.Wojtek Radwanski / AFP – Getty Images

Hundreds marched

Read more