“These are families that have assembled a crib, picked out little clothes and put them into little drawers and had baby showers when they’ve received the most devastating news of their lives,” she said.
As some states have moved to liberalize their abortion laws while also setting limits, Republicans have homed in on the provisions that regulate the procedure later in pregnancy. New York, for example, passed a law that allows for termination after 24 weeks but only if the life or health of the mother is at risk or there is an absence of fetal viability. In his State of the Union address in February, Mr. Trump glossed over those limits, saying it would allow a baby to be “ripped from the mother’s womb moments from birth.”
An appearance by Senator Bernie Sanders on Fox News illustrated the difficulties Democrats have had in discussing the issue as Republicans have reframed the debate squarely on their turf. The moderator, Martha MacCallum, asked the senator, “Do you believe that a woman should be able to terminate a pregnancy up until the moment of birth?”
Mr. Sanders responded, “I think it’s rare, it’s being made into a political issue, but at the end of the day I believe that the decision over abortion belongs to a woman and her physician, not the federal government, not the state government, and not the local government.”
His position was one that women’s groups have adopted for decades: That decisions about abortion are a woman’s personal choice. But that language is not useful when conservatives have made the conversation more extreme, said Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster.
“The initial response from a lot of well-meaning politicians was one of two things,” Ms. Lake said. “It was the language around personal decision making and Roe v. Wade, or it was the language around late abortions. And that’s just not sufficient for addressing infanticide and abortion survival and these kinds of new frames.”
“Whoever sets the frame,” she continued, “wins the debate.”
The debate is still very much an open one. But it may come down to what Americans find more persuasive: the kind of nuanced explanation and argument abortion rights supporters are making, or a searing, one-word label like “infanticide.”