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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is hard at work on the Senate’s agenda — that is, of course, if Republicans take over in November.

As Cortney O’Brien reports at the conservative site Town Hall, McConnell used the last day of the National Right to Life Convention to vow that he and his fellow Republicans would pursue “pro-life” policies and measures if control of the Senate shifts right after the midterm elections.

“I’m proud of my record and defense of life. If I was Majority Leader, we’d already have had a vote on it [abortion limits] in the Senate. It’s long past time for us to join the ranks of most other civilized nations to protect children past 20 weeks in the womb,” the passionate McConnell said at the convention.

McConnell was specifically referencing a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The bill, written by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), immediately sparked criticism from the left and from women’s health advocates, who note that most abortions that occur after the 20-week period are related to health issues that threaten the mother or fetus — or both. Without any support from Democrats — and even lacking full support from the Senate GOP — the bill’s future appears grim.

Even if the bill miraculously garnered the support needed to pass the Senate and the House, President Barack Obama would surely veto it.

Still, McConnell — who points to his early planning as evidence that he would serve as a “better scheduler” than current Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) — projects optimism about limiting access to abortions. “For six years, the president has been isolated from this growing movement … He will be forced to listen to the cause that’s brought us all here this morning … Senate Dems would be forced to take a stand,” the Kentucky senator said.

McConnell made the comments in Kentucky on Saturday, but the spiel probably would have lasted longer if he had spoken on Monday, when the Supreme Court announced its ruling in the Hobby Lobby case. The 5-4 decision struck down a key provision of the Affordable Care Act that required all employer-provided insurance to include contraception coverage, even if the employers have religious objections to contraception methods. Immediately after the announcement, the Republican National Committee praised the Court for ruling “on the side of liberty.”

The ruling — a narrow decision that does not actually prohibit the federal government from providing contraception coverage for women or from requiring that employer-provided health care provide other key areas of coverage, despite employers’ religious objections — may encourage Republicans to take a firmer stance on abortion.

After its great 2012 losses, the GOP has attempted to steer clear of social issues that have largely shaped its platform, but also alienated significant populations of the electorate, like women and minorities. However, growing tension between moderate Republicans and Tea Party Republicans has forced GOP politicians to reconsider their strategy. Still, the possibility exists that Republicans who remind voters of the GOP’s narrow and unchanging positions risk again driving moderate voters in the direction of the Democratic Party.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir.

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