Differences Surface in GOP Opposition to Abortion in Post-Roe America

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

Broad condemnation of abortion among conservatives was nearly universal for almost 50 years. Now, in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, even as radical abortion activists continue to lose their minds, cracks are forming within the Republican Party over how to move forward.

From the current look of things, it’s not going to be easy.

The situation in Wisconsin provides a perfect example. In the post-Roe era, the Badger State’s 1849 law that banned abortion except when a mother’s life was at risk is suddenly relevant again.

As reported by the Associated Press, Republicans in the Wisconsin State Assembly blocked an attempt by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers to overturn the law. Easy fix? Not so much. Disagreement exists within the state Republican Party over what to do — if anything — to “update” the law when they return in January.

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos supports reinforcing the exception for a mother’s life and adding exceptions in cases of rape or incest. Others, including GOP state Rep. Barbara Dittrich, argue that the law should remain as originally written, without exceptions for rape and incest.

Achieving consensus among her Republican colleagues on an alternative to the 1849 law would be a “tremendous challenge,” claims Dittrich. It seems to me that achieving consensus on the law as written would present an equal challenge, given the emotional debate surrounding rape and incest. We’ve seen this debate in several states, including within Indiana’s GOP-controlled General Assembly in July.

After a decade of stalled abortion legislation, Indiana Republicans passed the first near-total abortion ban in the nation following the Roe reversal. But again, the rape-incest exception drew dissent within the party.

Exceptions for rape and incest up to 10 weeks after fertilization ultimately prevailed after 50 Republicans joined with all Democrats to include the exceptions, with 18 Republicans voting against final passage of the bill, roughly half saying the bill went too far and the rest saying it was too weak.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle, for example, 49 out of 50 Senate Democrats in June voted in support of on-demand abortion until birth; a meaningless protest vote, as it were, against the Roe overturn. West Virginia’s Joe Manchin was the lone Democrat to cross the aisle and vote with the Republicans, giving them the majority.

And in South Carolina, as AP reported, Republicans have spent decades curtailing abortion access and the discussion remains ongoing about a near-total ban. But some in the legislature voiced concern about pushing the current six-week ban further and urged deceleration, particularly after seeing voters in Kansas defeat a ballot measure that would have allowed the state legislature to ban abortion outright.

“It’s like you are playing with live ammunition right now,” Republican Rep. Tom Davis told the AP.

According to the AP, some “experts” say the inconsistency among Republicans about how to move forward underscores how new the debate is — and how unprepared the party was for it. Others — including this political pundit — wonder which party will most benefit from the overturn of Roe in the November midterms.

On a related note, while the left touts polls suggesting 61 percent or more of likely voters generally support abortion in most cases, different results are shown, depending on how questions are phrased. On the issue of abortion until birth, a 2019 survey found that 66 percent of U.S. adults who identify as pro-choice opposed third-trimester abortions, with 68 percent opposing abortion the day before a baby is born — which “very religious” Nancy Pelosi, of course, refers to as “sacred ground.”

A July AP-NORC poll found that Republicans are largely opposed to abortion “for any reason” after 15 weeks of pregnancy. But only 16 percent of Republicans say abortion generally should be “illegal in all cases.” Most Republicans said their state should generally allow legal abortion if the child would be born with a life-threatening illness (61 percent), a pregnancy occurs as the result of rape or incest (77 percent), or if the woman’s health is seriously endangered (85 percent).

The bottom line:

While right-to-life advocates largely viewed the overturn of Roe v. Wade as the beginning of the end of on-demand abortion in America, that is certainly not the case. Likely, few conservatives would have predicted the battle now brewing within the Republican Party as the debate continues over near-total abortion bans vs. various exceptions, mostly related to the issues of rape and incest.

And again, the question remains which party will most benefit — if at all — in the November midterm elections and beyond. After all, obscenely so, for the Democrats, it’s all about the ballot box.

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