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The Republicans Are Stuck In A Deadly Trap Of Their Own Making— And They Have No Way Out

Republican Politicians Want To Take Away Choice-- Voters Will Take Away Their Careers


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"Long Reach Of The Law" by Nancy Ohanian

In the last Congress, MAGA-crackpot Alex Mooney (R-WV) introduced H.R. 1011, Life at Conception Act, which would outlaw abortion entirely-- and with no exceptions. It was never voted on but it garnered an impressive 166 co-sponsors, mostly Republicans from safely red gerrymandered districts. No surprise finding extremists like Marjorie Traitor Greene (GA— with an R+45 partisan lean), Gym Jordan (OH— R+40), Ronny Jackson (TX— R+45), Matt Rosendale (MT— R+30), Andrew Clyde (GA— R+48), Diana Harshberger (TN— R+60)… but what about Don Bacon (NE— who won his seat with just 51.3%), David Schweikert (AZ— who won his seat with just 50.4%), Michelle Steel (CA— who won her seat with just 52.4%), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA— who won her seat with just 53.4%), Ashley Hinson (IA— who won her seat with just 54.1%), Lauren Boebert (CO— who won her seat with just 50.1%), even a lunatic like Scott Perry, a true believer who was reelected against a weak opponent but only managed to take 53.8% of the vote.


As Michelle Goldberg wrote yesterday, the bill would have conferred “full personhood rights on fertilized eggs. In state after state, lawmakers are doing just what the RNC suggested [‘to pass the strongest pro-life legislation possible’] and using every means at their disposal to force people to continue unwanted or unviable pregnancies. Idaho, where almost all abortions are illegal, just passed an ‘abortion trafficking’ law that would make helping a minor leave the state to get an abortion without parental consent punishable by five years in prison. The Texas Senate just passed a bill that, among other things, is intended to force prosecutors in left-leaning cities to pursue abortion law violations. South Carolina Republicans have proposed a law defining abortion as murder, making it punishable by the death penalty.”


When asked why the RNC was still demanding such extreme measures in light of their poor electoral showings since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, the response was that Republicans hadn’t been aggressive enough in defending anti-abortion values, urging them to “go on offense in the 2024 election cycle.” Not everyone agrees this is a winning strategy for the Republican Party. Goldberg noted that “Ann Coulter tweeted, ‘The demand for anti-abortion legislation just cost Republicans another crucial race,’ and added, ‘Please stop pushing strict limits on abortion, or there will be no Republicans left.’ Jon Schweppe, policy director of the socially conservative American Principles Project, lamented, ‘We are getting killed by indie voters who think we support full bans with no exceptions.’”


But having made the criminalization of abortion a central axis of their political project for decades, Republicans have no obvious way out of their electoral predicament. A decisive majority of Americans— 64 percent, according to a recent Public Religion Research Institute survey— believe that abortion should be legal in most cases. A decisive majority of Republicans— 63 percent, according to the same survey— believe that it should not. When abortion bans were merely theoretical, anti-abortion passion was often a boon to Republicans, powering the grass-roots organizing of the religious right. Now that the end of Roe has awakened a previously complacent pro-choice majority, anti-abortion passion has become a liability, but the Republican Party can’t jettison it without tearing itself apart.
The reason voters think Republicans support full abortion bans, as Schweppe wrote, is that many of them do.
…In Florida, which already has a 15-week abortion ban, Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to soon sign a law banning almost all abortions at six weeks. This isn’t something Florida voters want— polls show a majority of them support abortion rights— but it’s a virtual prerequisite for his likely presidential campaign.
Republican attempts to moderate abortion prohibitions even slightly have, for the most part, gone nowhere. Last year, the Idaho’s Republican Party defeated an amendment to the party’s platform allowing for an exception to the state’s abortion ban to save a woman’s life. In the weeks before the Wisconsin election on Tuesday, Republican lawmakers introduced a bill providing some narrow exceptions to the state’s abortion prohibition for cases of rape, incest and grave threats to a pregnant person’s health, but they lacked the votes in their own party to pass it.
… It’s not surprising that voters have reacted with revulsion to being stripped of rights they’d long taken for granted, and to seeing the health of pregnant women treated so cavalierly. But the backlash seems to have caught Republicans off guard. Last May, when the Supreme Court’s draft decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization leaked, Coulter assured her readers that the end of Roe wouldn’t help Democrats. “Outside of the media, no one seems especially bothered by the decision,” she wrote.
Part of what happened here is that conservatives fell for their own propaganda about representing “normal” Americans. (This, incidentally, is the same reason many on the right can’t admit to themselves that Donald Trump lost in 2020.) Coulter was sure Americans would be turned off by those outraged by the end of Roe, writing, “Everybody hates the feminists.” When a poll last year showed that 55 percent of Americans identified as pro-choice, a piece in National Review told readers not to worry: “Many of our policy goals enjoy strong public support.”
Untethered to actual Republican voters, Coulter was able to pivot, but the Republican Party cannot. Instead, its leaders are adopting a self-soothing tactic sometimes seen on the left, insisting they’re being defeated because they’ve failed to make their values clear, not because their values are unpopular. “When you’re losing by 10 points, there is a messaging issue,” the Republican Party chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel, said on Fox News, explaining the loss in Wisconsin.
But you can’t message away forced birth. Republicans’ political problem is twofold. Their supporters take the party’s position on abortion seriously, and now, post-Roe, so does everyone else.

A day or two ago I wrote that this is what a fetus looks like at six weeks. I was mistaken; it’s what a fetus looks like at seven weeks. In the end, the Republican Party position against Choice is based strictly on one thing and one thing only: a perception of their religious beliefs, beliefs that have shifted with time.



In 1938, Rev. Charles Raven, a prominent Anglican theologian and author, wrote that “The decision to have an abortion is a tragic one, but it must be left to the woman herself. No one else can make this decision for her. We must trust women to make the best decisions for themselves and their families." In 1969, Episcopal Bishop James A. Pike, wrote that "The decision to have an abortion is a deeply personal one, and it must be left to the woman herself. The church has no right to interfere in this decision, nor does the government. It is a matter between the woman, her conscience, and her doctor." One year earlier Rev. Paul Mayer, a Catholic priest who later became a member of the Episcopal Church, wrote: "The right to choose whether or not to have a child is a fundamental human right. It is a decision that must be made by the individual woman, in consultation with her own conscience and with the guidance of medical professionals." In 1962 Congregationalist minister John C. Bennett wrote that “Abortion is not a moral issue, it is a medical issue. It is a decision that must be left to the woman and her doctor. To deny women access to safe and legal abortion is to deny them their basic human rights." Even earlier, Rev. Robert Lynch, a Methodist minister wrote (1956) that "It is not up to the government or the church to dictate to a woman what she can and cannot do with her own body. The decision to have an abortion is a deeply personal one, and it must be left to the woman herself." Rev. Harry Emerson Fosdick, a prominent Protestant theologian, wrote in 1967: "No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body. No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother." More recently (1990) Rev. Katherine Ragsdale wrote “Abortion is a blessing, a mercy, a gift. [...] Let us shout our abortions from the rooftops. [...] We are pro-life because we believe that life is sacred. That it is holy. That it is divine. And that it is also always complicated." Almost two decades later, Ragsdale wrote that “As people of faith, we believe in compassion and justice. We believe in making decisions based on science and facts. We believe in providing care and support to all people, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, or religious beliefs. And we believe in the right of every person to make their own decisions about their own bodies and their own lives.”


The early Christian Church had no consistent stance on abortion, and there is no explicit mention of abortion in the teachings of Jesus. However, as Christianity grew and became the state religion of the Roman Empire, it began to develop a more rigid stance on the issue. In the early centuries of Christianity, some theologians and leaders took a more liberal stance on abortion, while others condemned it as a grave sin. However, by the fifth century, the Church had developed a consistent teaching that human life began at conception and that abortion was a grave sin.


Mostly it has been Catholic teaching that claims life begins at conception. Now we’re in Handmaid’s Tale territory, a dystopian patriarchal society where women's bodies are heavily controlled and reproductive rights have been taken away. In this society, abortion is strictly prohibited and punishable by death, and women are forced to carry pregnancies to term regardless of their own wishes or circumstances.


According to Jewish law, the life of the mother takes precedence over the life of the fetus. If the mother's life is at risk, abortion is allowed. Generally, the Orthodox tend to be more anti-Choice than any other strains of Judaism. They believe that life begins at conception and that abortion is tantamount to murder. Reform rabbis and leaders generally support a woman's right to choose and recognize that each individual must make their own moral and ethical decisions. While Reform Judaism affirms the sanctity of life, it also recognizes that other values, such as compassion and individual autonomy, may sometimes take precedence.


Islamic scholars differ in their opinions on when human life begins, but most agree that it begins at some point during pregnancy. Some Islamic countries allow abortion in certain circumstances, such as if the mother's life is at risk, if the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest, or if the fetus has a severe abnormality. In general, Sunni Islam tends to be more conservative on the issue of abortion, viewing it as generally prohibited except in cases where the mother's life is in danger. But even some Sunni scholars— like most Shia scholars— argue that abortion is permitted before 120 days of pregnancy, as this is the point at which the fetus is thought to receive a soul. In Shia Islam, the view on abortion is generally more permissive. Some Shia scholars argue that abortion is up to the point of "quickening" (when the fetus begins to move). Sufism, it is a mystical tradition within Islam, and its teachings on abortion are not well-defined. However, Sufis generally emphasize compassion, empathy, and the importance of inner spiritual development, and these values may inform their views on the issue of abortion. Sufis who I’ve known in my travels viewed abortion as a matter of individual conscience and emphasize the importance of compassion and empathy in making ethical decisions.


Yesterday, Pramila Jayapal wrote to her supporters that “In February, 22 Republican attorneys general and 67 GOP members of Congress backed a lawsuit trying to overturn the FDA’s two-decade approval of medication abortion, aka ‘abortion pills.’ If the courts overturn the FDA’s approval, there will be immediate and devastating consequences:

  • An estimated 40 million people who can become pregnant would lose access to medication abortion.

  • Overturning the FDA’s approval would force pregnant people to undergo the more costly and difficult to obtain option of surgical abortions, which include a longer recovery time, are more expensive, and often require visits to clinics that are hundreds of miles away— taking patients away from their work, families and driving up the overall costs of care.

  • When lawmakers restrict abortion access, there’s always a disproportionate impact on already vulnerable groups. A ban on abortion pills would heavily burden people of color, people who are disabled, working class communities, transgender folks, and people who live in rural areas.

Since Roe v. Wade was overturned, 24 states have either outlawed abortion or are preparing to— a federal ban on medication abortion is just the latest step in the GOP’s long-term plan to strip hundreds of millions of Americans from accessing abortion.”

3 Comments


Guest
Apr 09, 2023

Jack Hannold with a really fine augmentation. The christian taliban took a while to become rabidly anti-abortion. And it always had the same old stench of an issue that they could adopt (read: manufacture) to make politics all about "us" vs. "them" instead of about the commons. Yes, the idiot medieval cat'licks were always a constant. But the other christian sects were always dismissive of and xenophobic about the cat'licks.

I remember some priest somewhere musing about maybe having to rethink their stance on abortion when the televangelists decided to adopt their position.


However, the nazi party has been talking about outlawing and criminalizing abortion for roughly 50 years now. But even when they could, they did nothing. Putting th…


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Jack Hannold
Jack Hannold
Apr 09, 2023

Howie neglected to mention the shift of both Baptists and Evangelicals on abortion.

In 1973, a Southern Baptist newsletter hailed Roe, saying it “has advanced the cause of religious liberty, human equality and justice.”

But by 1979, most Baptists, along with the Evangelicals (who were never generally considered “mainstream”), were being swept up into the far right’s anti-abortion campaign. The how and why of that are explained in this article: “The Real Origins of the Religious Right: They’ll tell you it was abortion. Sorry, the historical record’s clear: It was segregation.”

That report explains how and why Evangelicals were seduced into the anti-abortion crusade. And in addition to the usual rogues’ gallery of James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and…

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That’s what happens to radical conservatives, they never progress. So with women’s right to control their bodies they are painting themselves into a narrower and narrower corner,

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