Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has introduced a bill to institute a federal ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. If one were to believe the dominant media complex – which, of course, isn’t exactly renowned for holding the best interests of Republicans dear to heart – the sky is falling for the GOP right before the midterm elections.
The establishment media never have a problem finding professional Republican personnel to echo the narrative they seek to develop. “Bad idea,” said Chris Mottola, a GOP “strategist.” “It rips open a political sore. The political environment was moving back to economic issues. It further nationalizes an issue that works against Republicans generically,” he told NBC News of the proposed legislation.
This is the quintessential template big-box outlets have been using for years against measures they oppose. This faux concern for Republican interests has been utilized when trying to whip up controversy over issues such as President Donald Trump’s tariffs against China or the current hand-wringing over “extremist” pro-Trump candidates winning GOP primaries.
Is Abortion GOP Kryptonite?
But is it even true? Multiple polls have shown the majority of Americans favor restrictions on late-term abortions. The Washington Examiner reported July 5:
“Half of the registered voters in a recent poll support banning abortion at six weeks into pregnancy except for victims of rape and incest. Nearly three-fourths would support a 15-week abortion ban, the very law upheld in the landmark Supreme Court decision Dobbs v. Jackson.
“In the largest survey since Dobbs, the case in which the court overturned Roe v. Wade, the Harris Poll and Harvard University’s Center for American Political Studies asked 1,300 registered voters what abortion laws they would want in their own state.”
In April, a Wall Street Journal poll found similar strong support for such measures. “With lawmakers in several states pushing forward with bills that would ban abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, 48% of voters said they would strongly or somewhat favor such restrictions, with exemptions to protect the health of the mother, while 43% were in opposition,” the paper wrote.
In short, there is no reason to believe proposing a ban on late-term abortion is a stick of dynamite waiting to blow up in GOP office-seeker hands come Nov. 8. Yet some Republican candidates appear to be buying into the loaded abortion narrative.
Displaying Weakness: The Worst Political Sin
HBO’s staunchly left-leaning Bill Maher has a contrarian side that frequently hits the mark. It did so again in late August. “I’m certainly pro-choice,” Maher said on his Aug. 26 Real Time show. “What I’m saying is you shouldn’t say to the other side, ‘You people hate women.’ They don’t hate women. They just think it’s murder.”
“And if you think it’s murder, then you can’t go, ‘Well, except for people with a vagina,’” he continued. “’They can commit murder.’ I don’t think it’s murder, but they legitimately do. And it insults them.”
Maher understands that consistency in logic has merit, even if he disagrees with the logic involved. Yet two major 2022 GOP candidates seemingly fail to grasp the importance of his words – with predictable negative repercussions. In Arizona, Republican Senate hopeful Blake Masters ran a primary race firmly aligning himself with the populist nationalism of Trump and proclaiming himself a stout defender of unborn life. He won the nomination.
Then came the general election pivot, which included running away from much of his pro-life stance. Masters scrubbed his campaign website’s policy page of its toughest anti-abortion messaging, including a line that he was “100% pro-life.” His reward: heavy criticism from pro-lifers while Democrats crowed that they “had the receipts” that easily referenced his earlier messaging. Masters has overcome the unforced error and is now locked in a close race with Democrat rival Sen. Mark Kelly. One wonders how Minnesota GOP gubernatorial nominee Scott Jensen will fare, however, after his much more glaring misstep.
Jensen is a family physician who has delivered “500 babies in my career,” according to a political ad he released Sept. 6. “Abortion is divisive, and [incumbent Democrat Gov.] Tim Walz is weaponizing the issue. In Minnesota, it’s a protected constitutional right, and no governor can change that, and I’m not running to do that,” Jensen declared in the ad, meant to draw the candidate away from his previous pro-life utterances. “I’m running because we need safe streets, excellent schools, parental rights, and more money in the family budget. That’s what I’ll fight for. Let’s focus on the issues that matter.” In a truly macabre touch, the doctor held an infant in his hands as he swore to do nothing to restrict the right to abortion if elected governor.
To reference Maher, if you think abortion is murder, you do not air a political ad like this. Pro-life Republicans see waffling, Democrats smell abject weakness like a shark smells blood in the water, and undecided voters sense sheer mendacity and rank opportunism.
This is the trap when Republicans buy into the establishment notion that being anti-abortion is a decisive negative that must be disavowed.