Republicans who backed the abortion ban are now silent on the issue

When the Supreme Court decided Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in June, reversing the right to abortion guaranteed by Roe vs. Wade (1973) for nearly five decades, this came as no surprise: a draft copy of the majority opinion had been leaked nearly two months earlier.

But Republicans agitated for the end of deer for generations. Ronald Reagan, the first Republican president elected after the case was judged, was the favored candidate of abortion opponents because of his support for a constitutional ban.

This remained the Republican platform for decades, even though public support for abortion with little or no restrictions remained the majority position. Republicans named justices and Supreme Court justices based on the likelihood of the candidate looking askance deer. Now that the goal has been met, some Republicans appear to be expressing buyer’s remorse.

Blake Masters is the Republican Senate candidate in Arizona. Like JD Vance of Ohio, Masters is a venture capitalist and a sidekick and former employee of Peter Thiel, who has donated millions to Every Man’s campaign. Despite a longstanding reputation as a Silicon Valley libertarian, Thiel has pivoted in recent years toward “national conservatism,” using state power to achieve his ideological goals.

A recent Politics profile characterized Masters as “king of the trolls”, combative and macho, dedicated to upsetting “the libs”. He supports a nationwide ban on abortion, a practice he called “demonic” and akin to a “religious sacrifice.”

But last week, Masters attempted to pivot to a position more aligned with mainstream polls. Freed Masters an advertisement claiming that his opponent, Sen. Mark Kelly (D – Arizona), supports “the most extreme abortion laws in the world”, Masters only opposed “very late and partial-birth abortion” . At the same time, Masters removed restrictionist abortion proposals from his campaign website. CNN reported that another Republican candidate for Congress from Michigan, Tom Barrett, also removed language from his website that favored abortion restrictions with “no exceptions.”

And this week the Los Angeles Times reported that three California House Republicans had remained silent on the issue since the Dobbs decision in June, although all have already co-sponsored the Life at Conception Act, a nationwide ban on abortion “including the time of fertilization, cloning or any other time an individual member of the human species is born”.

Notably, public opinion has not changed much in the five decades since deer: About three-quarters of Americans consistently support some level of access to abortion. It has also long been official Republican policy to oppose the practice and support a ban.

But since the Dobbs decision actually achieved the first half of their goal, political trends did not break in the direction of the Republicans. Earlier this month, deep-red Kansas voted overwhelmingly against banning abortion in the state Constitution. While the president’s party has traditionally fared poorly in midterm elections, Democrats have outperformed historical trends in special elections held since Dobbs decision.

Maybe Republicans are just lying to get elected. Some may have changed their minds. Either way, it’s encouraging that politicians are adjusting to the idea that on at least one issue, on the whole, Americans simply want to be left to make their own decisions.

About Norman Griggs

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