After unexpected midterm losses and voters in traditionally red states that have rejected strict abortion bans, the Republican Party will seemingly settle around a “mainstream” compromise.
During the 2022 midterms, Democrat candidates in competitive races ended with clear victories after making abortion rights a central issue in their election. The results were widely interpreted as a warning sign to Republicans for 2024.
As a result, according to professor of law Mary Ziegler, Republicans are looking to revamp their strategy.
“There are Republicans who are looking at this and saying we can’t just cater to the antiabortion and the primary voter because there’s a lot of voters now who care about abortion,” she said. “It may actually backfire on us.”
Public Opinion is Moderate
While the loudest pro-abortion groups and progressive Democrats demand unfettered access to abortion, public opinion is much more tempered.
A Fox News poll from April shows 54% of registered voters nationally support a 15-week abortion ban with exceptions for medical emergencies.
An AP poll showed 57% support for banning abortion in the second trimester, which begins at about 14 weeks.
The second trimester is also the line for most European countries, which Democrats constantly look to for social policy guidance.
“We can’t live at the extremes,” North Carolina Sen. Amy Galey (R) said in an interview. “As a country, we can find a way to take a difficult issue and resolve it without a huge amount of acrimony and viciousness.”
The state is one of two with conservative legislatures that have recently passed more moderate 12-week bans after near-total bans were blocked by party infighting.
The other, Nebraska, was forced to reckon with its position after 80-year-old Senator Merv Riepe, a longtime Republican, was the voice that tanked the legislature’s effort to ban nearly all abortions.
South Carolina, which saw its female GOP senators stand against a near-total ban, will begin debating a 12-week vs 6-week ban this week.
The compromise is not sitting well with all pro-life groups, but some are slowly getting on board.
“Our focus is on being as aggressive as we can in finding consensus to protect as many babies and serve as many moms as possible as quickly as we can,” said Stephen Billy, vice president of state affairs at Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America.
“In Nebraska and in North Carolina, with their bills, that’s exactly what’s happening.”