Anti-Abortion One-Upsmanship Will Haunt Republicans in the Election
If 2012 was the year of Republican men saying stupid things – from “legitimate rape” to pregnancy from rape being something “God intended”– this must be the year of Republican men simply being stupid. There’s no other way to account for the complete meltdown that the party’s presidential hopefuls are having over abortion, racing to the right in a short-sighted effort to win the nomination while leaving themselves high and dry for the general election.
Marco Rubio, who supported a bill in 2013 that included exceptions for rape and incest, flat-out denied as much during the Republican debate earlier this month, saying, “I have never advocated that.” Later, when caught in his lie, Rubio said he only supported the bill because “it prevents abortions” and doubled down on his extreme position: “While I think [pregnancy from rape and incest] are horrifying...I personally believe you do not correct one tragedy with a second tragedy.”
When Ben Carson was asked if he supported rape and incest exceptions, Slate writer Amanda Marcotte pointed out that he claimed exceptions aren’t really necessary because women can just stop the pregnancy before it starts: “I would hope that they would very quickly avail themselves of [an] emergency room, and in the emergency room, they have the ability to administer, you know, RU-486, other possibilities, before you have a developing fetus.” Leaving aside the fact that not all rape victims are able to get to an emergency room – especially if the rapist is a family member – RU-486 is not the morning-after pill; it’s an abortion-inducing pill you take to end an established pregnancy. Perhaps a doctor should know this?
Scott Walker says that women don’t really ever need abortions to save their lives, and Mike Huckabee – the gift who keeps on gaffing – is out there actually arguing that 10-year-old rape victims should be forced to give birth. Have you ever met a 10-year-old girl, Mr Huckabee?
As I find myself (almost) speechless in response to all of these men, I think Sen. Elizabeth Warren said it best: “Did you fall down, hit your head and think you woke up in the 1950s or the 1890s? Should we call for a doctor?”
Republicans vying for their party’s endorsement seem to forget that women’s votes exist. And that while this anti-choice posturing may be beneficial in the primaries, they are handing Hillary Clinton – or whoever the Democratic nominee may be – a mighty large sword to wield against them in the general election.
Jess McIntosh, vice president of communications at EMILY’s List, told me, “They’re so extreme it almost forecloses the possibility of a campaign. No persuadable voters want to hear about your plan to force raped children to give birth. It sounds as monstrous as it is.”
“And how do you argue about parental consent, when if you had your way the wishes of the parents would be meaningless?” she continued, “since every accidental teen and pre-teen pregnancy would be forced to result in birth?”
The GOP contenders are ignoring the fact that one in three American women will have an abortion and that 95% of them will not regret it. Do they think those women will be voting for the candidate who would try to have that decision taken away?
It’s well-established that extreme positions against abortion simply don’t fly with American voters. Measures to give zygotes personhood rights have failed again and again, the majority of Americans don’t want to see Roe v Wade overturned, and most people believe in abortion exceptions. Jocelyn Kiley, associate director at the Pew Research Center, told me that about 75% of Americans believe abortions should be possible in the case of rape. “For and health and life exceptions,” she says, “there’s a broad majority of more than 80%.”