Republicans keep passing extreme anti-abortion bills even though they’re incredibly unpopular — this is how they get away with it
For years, Republicans and the Christian Right have been attempting a death-by-1000-cuts approach to Roe v. Wade, undermining abortion access in subtle ways. But in the Trump era, they have seriously accelerated their anti-abortion agenda by proposing or passing so-called “heartbeat bills” (which, in effect, ban abortion after about six weeks). And Alabama House Bill 314, recently signed into law by Republican Gov. Kay Ivey, is almost a total abortion ban in that state and allows doctors performing abortions to receive up to 99 years in prison. Yet as Mark Joseph Stern asserts in a June 4 piece for Slate, poll after poll shows that Americans on the whole are decidedly pro-choice.
Citing various polls conducted in recent weeks, Stern makes a strong case for how unpopular GOP-sponsored anti-abortion laws are — for example, polls showing that the number of Americans who believe Roe should be upheld to be 71% (the Wall Street Journal/NBC News) or 67% (CBS News). Stern also points to recent polls showing the number of Americans who disapprove of House Bill 314 to be 57% (HuffPost/YouGov) or 56% (Morning Consult/Politico).
So why do Republicans keep passing extreme anti-abortion laws “despite their broad unpopularity,” Stern asks? One of the main reasons, according to Stern, is gerrymandering; the Alabama legislature, he asserts, is “flagrantly gerrymandered,” allowing for the “dominance of white Republicans.”
Another reason, Stern adds, is voter suppression. “Alabama legislators have spent the bulk of this decade mastering the art of voter suppression,” Stern notes. Between gerrymandering and voter suppression, Stern argues, it becomes much easier for an extremist minority to pass wildly unpopular laws.
“GOP lawmakers have rigged the game so successfully that they can easily pass laws opposed by a supermajority of Americans,” Stern emphasizes. “If the Supreme Court upheld these bills, it wouldn’t be deferring to the democratic process — it would be assenting to the tyranny of the minority.”