The point of Jonathan Weismann’s and Katie Glueck’s NY Times report this morning about GOP tap dancing around the abortion issue, is that post-Kansas Republican candidates “are softening their once-uncompromising stands against abortion as they move toward the general election, recognizing that strict bans are unpopular and that the issue may be a major driver in the fall campaigns.”
Is that so? Weismann and Glueck went right to the most obvious exception, Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidates Doug Mastriano who has a long and extreme record advocating against women’s Choice and against any exceptions. Acknowledging that he is “ardently anti-abortion,” they noted that he “has lately taken to saying ‘the people of Pennsylvania’ will ‘decide what abortion looks like’ in the state, not the governor.” Misleading gobbledygook that will persuade no one.
They reported that GOP consultants are now “advising Republicans to endorse bans that allow exceptions for pregnancies from rape or incest or those that threaten the life of the mother” and are teaching anti-Choice candidates to talk around the issue and try to trick voters, telling their clients “to emphasize care for women during and after their pregnancies.”
Not everywhere, they’re not. How could GOP Michigan gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon and Arizona senatorial candidate Blake Masters run away from these statements?
Dixon is just garden variety clueless extremist in way, way over her head. Masters is in his own category of demented provocative hysteria, calling women’s choice “a religious sacrifice” and “demonic” and insisting that doctors be punished.
The recalibration for some began before voters of deeply Republican Kansas voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday against removing abortion rights from the state’s constitution. Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, retracting the constitutional right to the procedure, many Republicans were slow to detail what would come next. As they rush to enact long-promised laws, Republican-led legislatures have learned how difficult banning abortion can be.
Not just the pro-choice movement but the pro-life movement was caught by surprise” by the Supreme Court, said Brandon Steele, a West Virginia delegate who pressed for an abortion ban without exceptions in a special session of the legislature that ended this week with the Republican supermajority stymied. “Without having the talking points, without being told what to do, legislators had to start saying what they were actually going to do. You could see the confusion in the room.”
“We’re finding out who is really pro-life and who us pro-life only to get elected, not just in West Virginia but across the country,” Steele said.
In Indiana, a special session of the state legislature to consider a near-total abortion ban has had brutal debates over whether to include exemptions and how far those exemptions should go.
“For some it’s very black and white: if you’re pro-life with no exceptions or if you’re pro-choice with no restrictions,” said State Senator Kyle Walker, an Indiana Republican who said abortion should be legal during at least the first trimester of pregnancy. “When you are in the gray area, you are forced to reconcile in your own mind where your own limits are.”
…The Kansas vote implies that around 65 percent of the voters nationwide would reject rolling back abortion rights, including a majority in more than 40 of the 50 states, according to a NY Times analysis.
Republicans believe their party can grab the mantle of moderation from Democrats, in part by conveying empathy toward pregnant women and offering exemptions to abortion bans, and casting Democrats as the extremists when it comes to regulating abortion…
But Republicans who moderate their views must still contend with a core base of support that remains staunchly anti-abortion. Abortion opponents said Thursday that the Republican candidates should not read too much into the Kansas vote, a single-issue referendum with language that was criticized by voters on both sides as confusing.
…After the Kansas vote, Democrats stepped up efforts to squeeze their opponents between a conservative base eager for quick action to ban all abortions and a broader electorate that wants no such thing.
The congressional race in NY-24 is a good example. The progressive in the race, Steven Holden, told me today that "Claudia Tenney has doubled down on her anti-choice positions due to her primary challenger from the more extreme right. She claimed that she would support families with unplanned pregnancies, but then voted against baby formula funding. We are seeing a great number of women of all political persuasions contacting us to say that enough is enough. We have a 7000-postcard campaign going out to women, regardless party, that is getting great returns. Tenney is still getting support from anti-choice organizations such as Concerned Women for America and the Eagle Forum."
There are 7 states where more than 50% of the voters oppose protecting abortion rights, the most backward— as with all things and forever— Mississippi and Alabama, followed closely by Louisiana, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Utah. Also sketchy are Tennessee, Idaho, South Carolina, West Virginia, Texas, Kentucky (where there is a referendum coming up this year) and North Dakota. And it looks pretty hair for anti-Choice extremist GOP candidates in battleground states Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Nevada, Arizona and even Ohio.