At its winter meeting, rather than acknowledge that its extremism on abortion may have hurt it in the midterm election, the Republican National Committee doubled down on its anti-abortion stance.
According to the RNC, the problem was that Republicans weren't extreme enough: "Instead of fighting back and exposing Democratic extremism on abortion, many Republican candidates failed to remind Americans of our proud heritage of challenging slavery, segregation, and the forces eroding the family and the sanctity of human life, thereby allowing Democrats to define our longtime position," the Republicans claimed.
In the future, Republicans should push "laws that acknowledge the beating hearts and experiences of pain in the unborn" — calling for restrictions on abortion as early as six weeks, when a heartbeat can be detected, which is before most women even know that they are pregnant.
This is not what a big tent looks like.
In fact, where voters were given a choice in the last election, they rejected absolute bans on abortion. In Kansas, a resolution that would have allowed the state legislature to ban abortion was voted down.
Many analysts pointed to a spike in Democratic and Independent women registering to vote in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision overturning Roe v. Wade. Certainly the results of the midterm election, with Republicans gaining only a narrow majority in the House and actually losing a seat in the Senate, hardly amounted to the red wave they had predicted, and the abortion issue is widely thought to be one of the reasons why.
Criminalizing abortions as early as six weeks, with no or few exceptions, may be the platform of the Republican Party, but it is not the way most Americans see things. The overwhelming majority of Americans who support Roe v. Wade do not want to see judges and legislators substituting their judgments for those of women and their doctors.
For years, leaders of the Republican Party who were concerned with building a majority party have argued that the party must be inclusive enough — a big enough tent — to make room for those who do not adhere to the hardline anti-abortion view.
Surely there must be some room in the party for those who care about rape or incest victims, about children, about the mental and physical well-being of girls who are not ready to be mothers. Apparently not.
The voters have spoken, and the Republicans have decided not to listen to them.
Who cares about Kansas?
In a party that is now dominated by the right wing of the right wing, with whatever is left of the moderate middle afraid to fight back, the battle will be over how few exceptions to allow, not how many; about how many women to force to become mothers; about how punitive the law should be.
Grist for the mill between Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis. If this is what Republicans are offering America, don't blame Democrats if the pickings are slim.
What Republicans are offering on abortion is no choice at all.
Susan Estrich is a politician, professor, lawyer and writer. Whether on the pages of newspapers such as The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post or as a television commentator on countless news programs on CNN, Fox News, NBC, ABC, CBS and NBC, she has tackled legal matters, women's concerns, national politics and social issues. Read Susan Estrich's Reports — More Here.
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