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Republicans think they’re winning the abortion wars now

The federal abortion wars are back this week, as the House of Representatives votes on a national ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, that is highly unlikely to become law. It’s a charade, one that turns women’s lives into ritualistic political football, and that will never pass muster either at the hands of the Senate, the president, or, judging by precedent, the federal courts. But thanks to the upheavals of the past year, it matters a lot, because each side believes it has a newly-formed political advantage on the issue: Democrats because Republicans have trouble with women voters and can’t stop talking about rape, Republicans because later abortions are unpopular and because of Kermit Gosnell.

Until recently, you could have reasonably thought House Republicans had declared a temporary ceasefire on the barrage of bills limiting access to birth control and abortion. Even before the trouncing of Todd Akin -- native son of this very uterus-concerned House -- and Richard Mourdock, John Boehner had set up a 20-week abortion ban for the District of Columbia to fail, with a two-thirds vote threshold.

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