Will the Ohio Abortion Controversy Harm Republicans in the Midterms?

AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades

From the moment the Supreme Court’s draft opinion indicating Roe v. Wade would be overturned was leaked to the public, it was clear the abortion issue would become a hot-button issue in the leadup to the congressional elections. Once the court handed down its ruling, the pro-abortion crowd has been on a full-court press to convince the American public to support the preservation of its most sacred of sacraments. Unfortunately, this has also resulted in the politicization of one of the most atrocious stories: The rape and impregnation of a 10-year-old girl.

Ever since it was reported that a small child was allegedly forced to cross state lines to obtain an abortion after being sexually assaulted because of an abortion ban, the story has been the subject of controversy and questions. Even now, the nation still does not have a clear picture of what happened, but more details continue to emerge.

The latest developments noted that an illegal immigrant confessed to raping the 10-year-old at least twice. However, the mother of the child told a Telemundo reporter that the accusations against the 27-year-old illegal alien were “a lie.” On Saturday, the reporter added an update — a report that the alleged rapist had a relationship with the mother.

As Democrats use this story to push the idea that restrictions on abortion are harmful, some have wondered how it will impact Republicans in November’s elections. Another element in this equation is the messaging coming from the right on the matter. A few have publicly argued the 10-year-old girl should have birthed the baby despite concerns about her health.

Jim Bopp, an Indiana attorney and the general counsel for pro-life organization National Right to Life, told Politico that under the model legislation he crafted, the girl should have been compelled to birth the baby. “She would have had the baby, and as many women who have had babies as a result of rape, we would hope that she would understand the reason and ultimately the benefit of having the child,” the lawyer said during a phone interview on Thursday.

The story of the 10-year-old rape victim forced to leave her home state to terminate a pregnancy has sparked a national conversation over the consequences of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and how far some states are willing to go to prohibit abortions.

Bopp’s remarks have prompted concern from Republicans who fear that this sentiment, which could be held by others on the right, could help Democrats portray the GOP as extremists on the abortion issue. “Oh, God no,” said a Republican strategist during a separate conversation with Politico. Another said the idea that the girl should have carried the pregnancy to term was “very bad.” One strategist even said, “I’m not touching this story with a 10-foot-pole wrapped in a blanket wrapped in a whatever.”

Polling on abortion indicates that while most Americans believe it should be allowed, it should have strict restrictions on the practice. However, if Republicans are seen to hold extreme views on the topic, it could turn public sentiment against them at a time when they are favored to retake the House and possibly the Senate in November. The fact that a young girl carrying a pregnancy could face severe health risks contributes to the problem the GOP is dealing with.

Cases in which a child as young as 10 years old becomes pregnant are extremely rare. But when it does happen, the girl could suffer various medical issues. USA Today reported:

“Until the Roe ruling, I had never had a colleague tell me about a pregnancy that was being forced to continue because of rape,” said Dr. Erika Werner, chair of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Tufts Medical Center. “In last three weeks, I’ve heard of three.”

“It’s very individualized, and there’s a huge variation,” Werner said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that there has been a sharp decrease in the number of births among girls from the ages of 10 to 14. It has dropped from 8,519 births in 2000 to 1,765 in 2020 according to the report which also noted that “[a]bortion surveillance from 47 states shows 1,410 abortions were reported in girls under 15 in 2019.”

Pregnant females between the ages of 10 and 19 are at higher risk for eclampsia, puerperal endometritis, and systemic infections when compared with women between 20 and 24. Eclampsia is caused by a surge in the mother’s blood pressure and can result in seizures.

“If it is severe, it sometimes requires early delivery,” said Dr. Sarah Milton, an OB-GYN with a practice emphasis in pediatrics. “The combination of seizures and potential early delivery makes it quite a dangerous diagnosis in pregnancy.”

Sherry Thomas, an ob/gyn at Mission Community Hospital in Panorama City, CA told Livescience that pregnancy at that young of an age carries other health risks. “The placenta preferentially will take nutrition from the mother, who really is a child,” she said.

“That means that the developing fetus will leach calcium and other nutrients from a child who should still be growing herself,” according to the report. “Likewise, pregnancy puts a major strain on the cardiovascular system, according to Wall. Pregnant women have about 50 percent more blood circulating through their bodies compared with non-pregnant women.”

This will likely not be the only such story Democrats use to promote abortion. Indeed, if the Supreme Court had not overturned Roe v. Wade, it is unlikely this story would have garnered national attention. But if the GOP wants to avoid facing fallout from these types of developments, it had better make sure its messaging is on point.


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