The GOP’s Abortion Problem

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abortion, Republican Party

Remember last year, when the punditocracy decided that Democrats didn’t know how to talk about abortion? That’s because Dems had to simultaneously promise to honor privacy while showing respect for the anti-privacy position. It’s tricky to do that without coming across as a tad nuanced.

But in the future, Republicans might themselves in the same fix.

This is something I’ve believed for a long time —

The Republican lawmaker who helped guide the GOP to an expanded majority in the House three years ago warned yesterday that a Supreme Court ruling overturning a woman’s legal right to an abortion — a possibility if the high court shifts further to the right — could hurt his party’s political prospects and cause a ”sea change” in suburban voting habits. …

… Davis’s comments underscore the complexities the GOP faces on the issue, at a time when some party strategists worry that the president’s low approval ratings are a drag on Republicans’ prospects in the 2006 congressional midterm elections.

Democratic pollsters have argued that the Republican Party’s firm antiabortion stance risks alienating suburban voters, especially women. But abortion historically has animated conservative voters who overwhelmingly favor restricting or outlawing it and typically vote Republican, said Karlyn H. Bowman of the American Enterprise Institute.

Republican strategists are now pondering whether a Supreme Court ruling that voided Roe would anger moderate suburban voters and galvanize abortion rights activists, giving Democrats an edge.

For years, the Right has been hiding behind Roe v. Wade. Rightie politicians can court the Fetus People vote by calling for the criminalization of abortion, while trusting those “activist judges” to protect them from doing something that would piss off an even bigger chunk of the electorate. The large majority of Americans do not want Roe v. Wade overturned.

But now that the Right is about to get another right-winger on the Court, at least one Republican is getting nervous.

The abortion rights cases most likely to land on the Supreme Court’s current docket mostly deal with restrictions, but legal observers say the court might still address a question at the heart of Roe: Is there a constitutional right to abortion?

That’s what worries Davis. ”It’s nice to make a stand” against abortion, he said, when ”it’s not a real bullet, it’s more theoretical.”

GOP dominance in the Midwest and South, especially in rural areas, came at a cost. Urban and suburban moderates and independents are getting squeamish about voting Republican. And if Roe v. Wade goes down, expect a stamped to the Left.

One sometimes hears that there was little abortion controversy before Roe, which is a flat-out lie. I well remember the Missouri state legislature did little else but argue about abortion, and I believe that was fairly standard. When Roe was decided, the relief in state capitals was palpable. If Roe is reversed, several states will outlaw abortion immediately, and most of the remainder will be embroiled in abortion wars as the Fetus People demand satisfaction. And Republicans won’t be able to hide any more. Most of ’em will have to find a way to placate the Fetus People while not scaring away everyone else.

Ain’t enough nuance on the planet to pull that one off.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. paradoctor  •  Nov 18, 2005 @2:19 am

    If Roe v. Wade is overruled, then the issue goes to the states, with predictable red-blue divisions. Also predictable; class injustice, lots of women crossing state lines, a technological revolution in abortion technology, and legislative paralysis in purple states. The last will, ironically, yield increased federal power. Eventually a federal amendment (for abortion itself, or for ‘privacy’) will pass. Eventual big losers; Republican party, theocrats. Immediate big losers; poor women. Ironically, then, poor women AND the Republicans have a common interest in the status quo; an equation the Republicans seem not to notice.

  2. No More Mr. Nice Guy!  •  Nov 18, 2005 @11:21 am

    Abortion has always been the GOP’s #1 wedge issue. They love to keep stirring the pot and riling up the useful idiots so that latter don’t notice the rethugs are picking their pockets, sending their jobs to China, their children to Iraq and their pensions, life savings and health care down the toilet. The last thing the rethugs want is for the abortion issue to be resolved one way or the other.



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