Bipartisan Seating at State of the Union?

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," January 24, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


BRET BAIER, HOST OF “SPECIAL REPORT”: This was the 39th year for March for Life. It started in 1974. They had about 20,000 people when it started. Now 100,000, 200,000, upwards of that come to Washington, D.C. to march for pro-life.

If you look at the polls.  The latest Fox News Opinion dynamics poll that is out, and you see the change that's happened in the past 10, 12, 13 years -- 50 percent now say they are pro-life, 42 percent pro-choice, and the flip back in 1997. What about his issue, the politics and the policy around it?  We're back with the panel. Chris?

CHRIS STIREWALT, FOX NEWS DIGITAL, POLITICS EDITOR: Well, look, this issue is on the floor because the Republicans are in control of the House. This is something they want to talk about. It's a Republican issue and something that is important to them.

But the numbers that you put up there are absolutely so revealing when you talk about the state of the American politics today. All of these issues, social issues generally go against the right.  Over time the arc bends away from social conservatism. On abortion, what we have seen because of the sonogram because of a generational change away from baby-boomer ethics and tying it to a woman's overall rights, you have seen tectonic shift in the way Americans look at the issue.  And what I wonder, and I think we all have to wonder, does this become an issue like gun control for the Democratic Party where it's just too hot to handle and you can't touch it, because if these numbers keep moving in this way, it won't pay off for the Democrats to be publicly identified pro-choice.

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: As long as Roe versus Wade stands. This is great as long as Roe versus Wade stands, as long as we have the status quo. But if it is overturned that is quite different from the gun control, where you have one party wishing they could expand gun control and can't. Here the law of the land is pro-choice.

STIREWALT: And changing around the edges.

LIASSON: And that's where the national consensus is. This question did not ask if you wanted Roe versus Wade overturned. It was just whether you were pro-choice or pro-life, which is quite different.

BAIER: The number of legal abortions, as you look at the graph increased through the 1970s, leveled off in the '80s. Fell off in the 90s.  Dipped a little bit now, Fred, as you take a look at the graph, Roe v. Wade 1973.

FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: People don't want to overturn Roe v. Wade. They do want abortions to be made much more rare. They're not rare at all now. But polls have shown that strongly over a period of time. People don't want very many exceptions, only for the life of the mother. That’s really about it -- any case of rape or incest.

One thing that pro-lifer’s, the pro-life strategist figured out, and Chris touched on this, there is one way to build up anti-abortion congress.  You know what that is? Elect Republicans. Democrats in a number of states figured out ahead of Republicans that, you know, we want to keep abortion legal all we have to do is vote for Democrats because the parties are so almost perfectly split on this.

So you can figure, and I have not talked to all 87 of the new Republicans who have been elected, but you can bet that the vast, vast majority of them are pro-lifers, so there will be a large pro-life majority in the House. If Republicans win the Senate and White House I'll see more of this, at least around the edges, more of these restrictions passed and signed by the president -- signed by the president.

BAIER: Chris, there are legislative agenda items quickly that the majority in the House pledged to institute permanent government-wide prohibition on taxpayer funding for abortion.  There’s another bill to deny any funding for any service provided at a clinic where abortions are performed again federal funding. There's another anti-abortion bill in Senate defining life as the beginning of the moment of conception.

How far will these legislative efforts, do you think, will they go?

STIREWALT: Senator Paul's life begins at conception is probably more symbolic than likely to pass. But these things about defunding Planned Parenthood.  These things about  how the government spends its money that’s got a real chance to get going.

Again, you look at these numbers; people are as Mara said, generally in favor of abortion being legal and as Fred says, being rare. If you say we don't want to shut it down but we want to make it harder to get and restrict access, I think there’s going to be broad consensus with that in the Senate.

BAIER: Even with Democratic Senate and Democratic president?

LIASSON: Safe, legal and rare is the wash word for this.

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