On June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling, overturning Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, eliminating the constitutional right to abortion that had been relied on for nearly half a century. While the ruling may have been a Republican dream come true, the backlash threatens the GOP’s success in the upcoming elections.
Republicans are handling this political reality in different but predictable ways. As I wrote recently, many GOP candidates have shown that ambition trumps all, quickly (and often sneakily) abandoning extreme positions under pressure of dwindling post-Dobbs poll numbers. Of course, plenty of Republicans, particularly state legislators, are enthusiastically pushing draconian abortions bans.
South Carolina Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey is one example. Thursday night, the state Senate voted to impose more abortion restrictions, gravely disappointing Massey, who fantasized about a ban with no exceptions for rape or incest. “We don’t have the votes, and I hate that I have to admit that,” Massey said, Republicansplaining that “I don’t think abortion should be used as birth control.”
Massey didn’t have the votes to transform his state into some sort of Gilead knockoff because five Republicans joined the Democrats in opposing it. However, that fortunate gesture didn’t stop Republicans from proceeding with other restrictions to the state’s “fetal heartbeat” law that bans abortion after six weeks, even as it remains temporarily blocked by the state Supreme Court.
Although rape and incest exceptions are still included in the state Senate’s proposed bill, rape and incest victims would have only 12 weeks (instead of 20) to receive an abortion. Their physicians would also be required to report the crime to authorities, take a DNA sample of the fetal issue, and have the local sheriff store it, even though the bill fails to offer funding for this.
While some Republicans such as these five state senators help Democrats hold the line against the most extreme abortion restrictions, the fact remains that the GOP doesn’t share the Democrats’ and most Americans’ vision of a nation that respects women’s healthcare and privacy rights. The November elections offer a critical opportunity to gain more Democratic gain who can steer America back in the right direction.