Republicans start to tune in to backlash on abortion

Republican candidates, facing a Clear fact check from Kansas votersare softening their staunch anti-abortion stance as they move towards a general election, acknowledging that strict bans are uncommon and that the issue could be a key driver of fall campaigns.

In swing states and even conservative corners of the country, some Republicans have veered towards the abortion ban, emphasizing support for exceptions. Some have stopped discussing the details in a remarkable way. Battles for Republican-dominated state legislatures have raged now that the Supreme Court has made what has long been a theoretical argument. a fact.

In Pennsylvania, Doug Mastriano, an ardent Republican anti-abortion governor, recently said that “the people of Pennsylvania” will “determine what abortion looks like” in the state, not the state. governor. In Minnesota, Scott Jensen, a family physician, said in March that he would “try to ban abortion“As governor, said in a video made before the Kansas vote that he favors some exceptions: “If I wasn’t clear before, I want to make it clear now.”

Republican consultants for Senate and House campaigns said on Thursday that while they still believe inflation and the economy will drive voters to the GOP, the candidates will have to Straight talk about abortion Democrats attack that the party’s stance is extreme. They have begun advising Republicans to endorse bans that allow exceptions for pregnancy due to rape or incest or life-threatening acts of the mother. They asked candidates to emphasize caring for women during and after pregnancy.

“If we are going to ban abortion, there are things we have to do to make sure the need for abortion is reduced and women are not in danger,” said Representative Nancy Mace, Republican of South Carolina, who won immunity. except said. for rape and incest in her state’s abortion law as state representative. Now, she says, Republicans need to push to expand access to obstetric and gynecological care, contraception, including the emergency contraceptive pill, and even protect women’s right to leave the state. their state to have abortions without fear of prosecution.

Texting alone cannot free the GOP from the flood of news following the Supreme Court decision, including the story of a 10 years old raped victim who crossed state boundaries to receive abortions and headlines about women who faced serious health problems under new, sweeping restrictions or bans.

On Thursday, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, who recently avoided talking about abortionsuspended a state attorney from Hillsborough County who refused to prosecute those who attempted to provide abortions prohibited by New state 15-week banangered the Democrats who protested.

The recalibration for some begins before voters of deep-rooted Republican Kansas voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday against removing abortion rights from the state’s constitution. Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, withdrawing constitutional rights to the process, many Republicans have been slow to detail what will happen next. As they rush to enact long-promised legislation, Republican-led legislatures have learned how difficult banning abortion can be.

“Not only the pro-life movement but the pro-life movement has been caught by surprise,” said Brandon Steele, a West Virginia delegate who has adopted a ban on abortion without exception. Supreme Court. week with the Republican majority thwarted. “Without talking points, not being told what to do, legislators have to start saying what they are actually going to do. You can see the mess in the room. “

“We are finding out who is really pro-life and who is just pro-life to get elected, not just in West Virginia but across the country,” Mr. Steele said.

In Indiana, a special session of the state legislature to consider the near-total abortion ban had heated debates over whether to include exemptions and what other issues should be. How far will that exemption go?

“For some, it’s black and white: if you’re for life without exception or if you’re elected with no limits,” said State Senator Kyle Walker, a party member. Republican in Indiana, says abortion should be legal during at least the first trimester of pregnancy. “When you’re in the gray zone, you’re forced to reconcile in your own mind what your own limits are.”

For months, Republicans have maintained that abortion rights will be the footnote in a midterm campaign driven by the worst inflation in 40 years, crime, immigration and a Democratic president with a low approval rating. Browsing is bogged down at about 40%.

That remains a public view, even after the Kansas referendum, where voters faced a single issue, not many factors they will consider in November.

But reality on the campaign trail is different. Sarah Longwell, a Republican pollster, said in her focus groups that rotating voters would boost inflation and the economy when asked what problems they are having. . But when reminded about abortion, passion really flared up. That shows that if Democrats can prosecute a campaign to keep the issue at the center and with integrity, they will find an audience, she said.

Ms. Mace agrees, saying abortion is growing rapidly and Republicans must respond.

In Minnesota, Dr. Jensen, the Republican candidate expected to take on Governor Tim Walz, suggested that it was interactions with voters after Roe’s fall, he said, that prompted him to do so. clear position on abortion.

“When Roe v. Wade overturned, we told Minnesota, and basically told everyone we were going to get into a conversation,” he said. “During that conversation, I learned of my need to be more specific about my position.”

That construction includes introducing a family and maternity leave program, boosting an adoption tax credit of $2,500 per child, and improving access to birth control, including the provision of over-the-counter contraceptives at a price ceiling. And like Adam LaxaltGOP Senate candidate in Nevada, Dr. Jensen points to abortion protection was in Minnesota to address the issue instead of voting this year.

Mr. Walz said he would continue to attack and not accept any softening of the Republican line.

“I talk about them from the very beginning,” he said of Dr Jensen and his running mate, Matt Birk, a former NFL player and anti-abortion rights advocate. “If they get the chance, they will criminalize this while we are trying to defend it. So it becomes a central theme, obviously, I think their change is in response to that. “

The Kansas vote implies that about 65 percent of voters nationwide would reject the repeal of abortion rights, including a majority in more than 40 of the 50 states, according to the report. a New York Times analysis.

Republicans believe their party can derive a moderate shell from Democrats, in part by imparting empathy to pregnant women and offering exemptions to abortion bans. pregnancy, while viewing Democrats as extremists when it comes to regulating abortion. If Democrats insist on making abortion a focus of their campaigns, they say, they risk losing touch with voters in an uncertain economy.

But Republicans who moderate their views still struggle with a core support base that remains staunchly anti-abortion. Opponents of abortion said on Thursday that Republican candidates should not read too much into the Kansas vote, a referendum that has a problem with language that is shunned by voters on both sides. Criticism is hard to understand.

Penny Nance, executive director and president of Women Cares for America, a conservative organization that opposes abortion rights.

After the Kansas vote, Democrats stepped up efforts to squeeze their opponents between a conservative base eager to act quickly to ban all abortions and a wide swath of voters. than don’t want that. Representative Elaine Luria, a moderate Democrat running in a Republican-leaning district in southeastern Virginia, release a new ad against her Republican opponent, Jen Kiggans, calling her “too extreme” in abortion. Luria initially said she would campaign for her work for the county and her support for the Navy, a major force in the region, but the situation has changed. Ms Kiggans’ campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

A group affiliated with the Association of Democratic Governors advertised abortion-related comments made by Tudor Dixon of Michigan, who won the Republican nomination for governor this week.

“If you talk about Tudor Dixon when it comes to outlawing abortion, then she tells us exactly who she is,” place, titled “No Exceptions”, content, featuring clips of Ms. Dixon highlighting her opposition to a range of exceptions related to abortion. Ms. Dixon was unclear about her position earlier this summer, write on twitter“My only exception is defending the LIFE of the mother.”

In a lengthy statement emphasizing her opposition to Proposed ballot measure in Michigan In defense of abortion rights, Ms Dixon also stressed that her race will be determined by work, school, crime and “being able to afford your gas and groceries”.

For Republicans, one problem could be the far-reaching trail of problems they left behind in the main season.

In May, Mr. Mastriano was blunt in Pennsylvania when he flirted with Republican primary voters: “That baby deserves a right to life whether it was conceived in incest or rape. or have other concerns for the mother.”

Last month, he said it wasn’t up to him. “You decide the exceptions. How early do you decide. And that’s in everyone’s hands,” he said on Philadelphia talk radio. “That is a fact. It is not an avoidance.”

Mitch Smith, Gabriel’s trip and Reid J. Epstein contribution report.

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