Republican Party Foolishly Ramps Up Its War Against Women Before The Midterms

Updated: May 13

On Tuesday, Annie Linskey reported on the Republican Party culture wars against America. "On the campaign trail, they’re railing against critical race theory and gender identity discussions in schools. In state legislatures and via executive fiat, they are trying to limit medical procedures for transgender children and punishing large companies they view as overly politically correct. They’ve found success by weaponizing the left’s “defund the police” movement, which advocates for reallocating resources to limit police power. And they’re already accusing President Biden of catering to college-educated elites as he considers forgiving student loan debt. In primary races ahead of November’s midterm elections, Republican candidates are embracing contentious battles over gender, sexual orientation and race rather than sticking to tried-and-true attacks on inflation or Biden’s low approval ratings. Many say these issues will broaden their coalition by peeling away socially conservative working-class voters. Their focus comes as a rollback on abortion rights, one of the biggest culture-war issues, could become a crowning achievement for the right... Some conservatives acknowledge that abortion is now a complicated issue for the midterms, with leading Republicans last week downplaying the pending Supreme Court ruling. But numerous GOP candidates in recent weeks have signaled that they will continue leaning hard into the culture wars this fall."

Some Democrats acknowledge that their party has not yet figured out how to best approach race and identity and the basket of culture-related issues.
“Democrats need to talk about that promise of America, the exceptional nature of America, the sense of opportunity and hope that America represents for millions,” said Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), whose parents emigrated from India. “Then we have to say, look, there’s been huge challenges. One, we made 40 years of mistakes where we offshore jobs, we got rid of production.”
“I don’t think we should shy away from issues of race or issues of culture,” Khanna added. “I think what we ought to say is, what makes America exceptional is that we are a nation not founded on blood, not founded on creed. What makes America exceptional is, we’re going to become the first multiracial, multiethnic democracy in the world.”
Republicans have not always had the upper hand on culture-war issues. In 2016, a North Carolina bill requiring people to use bathrooms that matched their biological sex at birth led to a huge backlash against Republicans.
Major companies including PayPal canceled plans to move or expand in the state. Then-Gov. Pat McCrory (R), who signed the bill into law, paid the ultimate political price for it, becoming the first North Carolina governor to lose a bid for reelection in a state that also voted to send Donald Trump to the White House. Exit polls showed that two-thirds of voters opposed the law.
...With the fate of Roe v. Wade in the balance, the GOP has faced some difficulty crafting a message. For instance, as Louisiana Republicans push to make abortion a crime, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the main campaign arm for Republicans, has tried to back way from that policy, and in a messaging document, it explicitly told members to say: “Republicans DO NOT want to throw doctors and women in jail. Mothers should be held harmless under the law.”
Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of Susan B. Anthony List, a leading opponent of abortion rights, acknowledged the muted response from GOP lawmakers but said Republican leaders have actually been more vocal than usual. Five or six years ago, Republican lawmakers “would not have taken [media] calls” about abortion rights because they would have wanted to completely avoid it, she said. “They would be so afraid to utter the ‘a-word.’ ”
Some Democrats say they’re not fighting hard enough on the issue. “Where the hell is my party? Where’s the Democratic Party?” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said last week during a stop at a Planned Parenthood office in Los Angeles.

That's easy-- and Newsom knows it: they're using abortion rights to fundraise. The GOP "assault on the bodily autonomy of half the population is also an assault on democracy. Americans support upholding Roe by a two-to-one margin. Fewer than 8 percent want abortion to be illegal under all circumstances-- which it will quickly become in multiple states as soon as Roe is gone... Democrats want to posture as the defenders of democracy and gender equality. But as long as they continue to coddle the anti-choice reactionaries within their party [Henry Cuellar and Joe Manchin], this rhetoric is a bad joke. A party that actually cared about those things would be waging all-out war to end the filibuster and codify Roe into law."

Continuing, Ben Burgis wrote that congressional Democrats' "failure to act meaningfully to stop abortion from being outright criminalized in vast swaths of the United States takes their hypocrisy to another level. This is the stuff they’re supposed to care about. In fact, two days after the leak of the draft opinion, House majority whip Jim Clyburn hosted a get-out-the-vote rally for the party’s last remaining House member to oppose abortion rights, Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX). Nancy Pelosi has also endorsed Cuellar and declined to rescind that endorsement even after she and Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer put out a joint statement calling the draft opinion overturning Roe an 'abomination.' The general election in Texas hasn’t started yet. Pelosi and Clyburn are supporting Cuellar not against some equally anti-choice Republican but against a Bernie Sanders–backed primary challenger, Jessica Cisneros, who is of course pro-choice. If the Democratic leadership went to war against the reactionaries standing in the way of legislatively codifying the will of the public on abortion rights, it might end badly. Maybe they’d lose their majority. Maybe Joe Manchin, for example, would switch parties and be reelected as a Republican. But if you call something an 'abomination' and you mean it, you should be willing to take real political risks to stop it. We’re not talking about some bill to adjust the top marginal tax rate by a percentage point or two. We’re talking about states around the country legally forcing pregnant women to stay pregnant and putting people in prison for making the 'wrong' personal medical decisions."

This is put-up-or-shut-up time. If you care about something exactly enough to fundraise about it and issue strongly worded statements about it and use it to get out the vote in the midterm elections, but you don’t care quite enough to take the kind of stand that would risk defeat, fair-minded observers can’t be blamed for wondering if you actually give a shit.

Florida, Indiana, South Carolina, South Dakota and Nebraska have called special sessions of their legislatures to outlaw abortions with new trigger laws that would go into effect as soon as the Supreme Court ruling is handed down, unless Alito, and the 3 illegitimate Trump justices-- Coney Barrett, Kavanaugh and Gorsuch-- die. This afternoon, Reid Wilson, reporting for The Hill, noted that "If Republicans in Congress have any qualms about announcing new abortion restrictions in the event Roe v. Wade is overturned, they are not shared by their state-level counterparts. GOP governors and state legislators are planning to hold special legislative sessions later this spring and summer to consider new measures to remove or restrict abortion rights, after the Supreme Court’s conservative majority is expected to reverse the landmark decision half a century ago guaranteeing those rights."

The lobbyist for anti-Choice fanatics, Americans United For Life, Katie Glenn told The Hill that "states with trigger laws would have to determine how their measures interact with the court’s final ruling. States that have passed abortion restrictions that have been enjoined by the courts prior to this year would have to petition federal courts to remove any injunctions. But Glenn said she expected other states to pass new measures. 'I think the big focuses will largely be the same-- gestational limits protecting human life much earlier than has been possible under Roe and Casey, basic safeguards preventing pill-by-mail abortions and enforcement of those laws, informed consent and alternatives to abortion programs and resources,' Glenn said."

Wilson wrote that "Elizabeth Nash, associate director of state issues at the pro-abortion rights Guttmacher Institute, said she expected some conservative states to push boundaries even farther. 'Some states may look to limit access to contraceptives, including by limiting access to publicly funded services or to emergency contraception which abortion opponents have continued to intentionally misconstrue with abortion pills'."

Idaho state Rep. Brent Crane (R), the chairman of the House State Affairs Committee, said last week he would hold hearings on legislation banning emergency contraception. Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin (R), a [pro-terrorist neo-Nazi] challenging Gov. Brad Little (R) in this year’s primary, has urged a new special session to remove exceptions from her state’s trigger law.
In Texas, where lawmakers last year passed a measure allowing private citizens to sue those who facilitated an abortion, a prominent legislator said he would introduce new measures to go even farther. State Rep. Briscoe Cain (R) has said he would draft bills to criminalize abortion funds and stop groups that pay for abortions from doing business in Texas.

SURPRISE! The Newark Star-Ledger has a suggestion

The editorial board is urging New Jersey residents to take the abortion fight to Pennsylvania. One New Jersey resident already did-- Dr. Oz, currently pretending to be an anti-choice loon as he runs for a Pennsylvania Senate seat. New Jersey already has the right to abortion "enshrined into state law" but concerned Jerseyites can go to work across the border. 'It’s going to be a key battleground state," wrote the editors, "so let’s do our part for our neighbor in a time of need."

If Roe v. Wade ultimately gets overturned, our nationwide, constitutional right to abortion will end and the power to regulate it would transfer to the states. About 15 of them will ban abortion almost immediately, but the future for Pennsylvania is a lot less certain. Much hinges on this fall’s election.
Pennsylvania is one of the few states with an open seat for governor in November, and since its lawmakers have been clear about their intent to ban abortion, the legislative races are just as crucial.
The state’s Republican-led, anti-choice Legislature has already lined up a rollout of fascist laws, from abortion bans at six weeks of pregnancy to the forced ritual burial or cremation of embryonic tissue. The only barrier so far has been the Democratic governor’s veto pen.
But Gov. Tom Wolf is now facing a term limit and must leave office next January. The one Democratic candidate seeking to replace him, Josh Shapiro, supports abortion access. Yet the nine Republicans vying in the May 17th primary all support strict limits or bans on abortion. The leading GOP candidate, Doug Mastriano-- a Christian nationalist who espouses QAnon conspiracy theories-- says he opposes any exceptions, even for rape, incest or the health of the mother.
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania’s Legislature is threatening its own future abortion ban. Its new tactic has been to sidestep the governor’s veto with a law that would put abortion rights and funding on a future ballot for voters. Because state lawmakers must approve any ballot question in two consecutive sessions, the earliest this referendum would go to Pennsylvania voters is next year.
And ballot referendums rarely fail, warns Roxanne Sutocky of the Women’s Centers, which operates five abortion facilities in four states, including in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. “That’s a real threat,” she told us this week, so people concerned about choice need to focus not just on the governor’s race but also on legislative elections “to try to flip as many seats as we possibly can.”
Our hope is that the people of Pennsylvania will elect lawmakers who will not hold a referendum on forced birth. Many of us have friends, family and colleagues who live just across the border, and this threatens not only the women of Pennsylvania but also the surrounding Midwest states.
“We know Ohio will fall with Roe, and we are anticipating a large number of individuals traveling from out of state, from Ohio into Pennsylvania,” Sutocky notes.
Think about it: If abortion rights in Pennsylvania fall too, New Jersey would end up being a receiving state for all these out-of-state women who desperately need the procedure. So we also need to hold the line on abortion rights in Pennsylvania in order to protect our health care infrastructure for women in New Jersey from becoming overburdened.
All of which is to say that if you have the time, the energy, or the dollars, invest them ahead of Pennsylvania’s election in November. Reach out to voters remotely by phone and text, or why not take a quick trip to canvass or be a clinic escort? The opposition is well-organized and there’s a lot on the line, so be a good neighbor and let’s get to work.