Far-right Republicans are trying to trample reproductive rights even in 'blue-leaning swing states': journalist

Far-right Republicans are trying to trample reproductive rights even in 'blue-leaning swing states': journalist

With the U.S. Supreme Court having overturned Roe v. Wade after 49 years, a long list of Republican-controlled states will no doubt make abortion illegal statewide. But deep red states like Alabama, Idaho, Louisiana, South Carolina and Wyoming aren’t the only states that defenders of reproductive rights need to worry about. Liberal Washington Post opinion writer Greg Sargent, in his June 27 column, warns that access to legal abortion is also threatened in “blue-leaning swing states” that include Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin and Michigan.

In Pennsylvania, the 2022 GOP gubernatorial nominee is Doug Mastriano — a far-right conspiracy theorist, QAnon ally and “Stop the Steal” extremist who is even to the right of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. Mastriano, following the 2020 presidential election, unsuccessfully fought to get millions of votes for now-President Joe Biden thrown out in the Keystone State. And a Suffolk University poll released in mid-June found the Democratic nominee, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, leading Mastriano by a mere 4%.

“Democrats were shocked earlier this month when a poll showed Republican Doug Mastriano trailing by only four points in the race for Pennsylvania governor,” Sargent observes. “This was despite Mastriano’s hard-right extremism: He bused protesters to D.C. before the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot, is brimming with messianic Christian nationalism and has appeared at QAnon events.”

READ MORE: A pregnant Ohio woman’s cancer diagnosis underscores the horrors of life after Roe

Sargent continues, “But Mastriano poses a concrete threat in another way, now that the Supreme Court has struck down the constitutional right to abortion. Mastriano is only four points away from both banning abortion entirely in Pennsylvania and criminalizing it there, as he has pledged to do.”

Sargent describes Mastriano as the “most glaring example” of a far-right movement to “dramatically restrict abortion or ban it entirely in blue-leaning swing states, not just in red ones.”

“Right now, Republicans control the state legislatures in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, and a Republican could win the gubernatorial race in any one of them,” Sargent warns. “GOP candidates in all three have pledged to ban or dramatically restrict abortion.”

In Michigan, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer — who is up for reelection in the 2022 midterms — has vowed to vigorously fight a 1931 law that bans abortions statewide even in cases of rape. That law became unenforceable when the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973, but on Friday, June 24 — in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization — the Court announced that it had overturned Roe and 1992’s Planned Parenthood v. Casey (which upheld Roe) as well.

“You may have noticed that Republicans have cast the Court’s ruling in unthreatening tones, by claiming it merely returns the issue to ‘democratic control’ in states,” Sargent notes. “That’s sorely complicated by aggressive GOP gerrymanders of many state legislatures, including in states often won by Democrats. But this also seems designed to lull Democratic voters into complacency. Voter turnout tends to drop off in midterms, particularly for the party in the White House. How many voters in places like Pennsylvania will make a direct connection between this fall’s gubernatorial elections and the fate of abortion rights?”

Sargent interviewed Shapiro for his June 27 column. Shapiro has been campaigning aggressively on abortion rights, warning that Mastriano opposes abortion even in cases of rape or incest.

“This is a real and present danger here in Pennsylvania if Mastriano wins,” Shapiro told Sargent.

Sargent also discusses Virginia, where Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin hasn’t been as publicly strident as Mastriano in expressing his anti-abortion views. But privately, the Washington Post’s Gregory S. Schneider reported in July 2021, Youngkin has promised to eventually “take it to the abortionists” and “go on offense.”

“In Virginia, Democrats ran millions of dollars in ads pointing out that Glenn Youngkin, now the GOP governor, had been caught on video suggesting extreme anti-abortion views,” Sargent notes. “It didn’t matter, and Youngkin has now called for a 15-week abortion ban. Will voters sense more urgency, now that the Court has ensured that abortion rights are directly on the ballot?”

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