May 18, 2024

A Political Position on Abortion

In the 2022 ruling on the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (Dobbs), the Supreme Court overturned the “right to abortion” that it created in the 1973 ruling on the case Roe v. Wade. This sent the decision about whether abortion was legal back to the states and has been a lightning rod politically ever since.

Up until this point, Abortion had been a rallying point on the Republican side, with many politicians lining up saying that they would stand for life– it was a litmus test for Republican politicians and judges at every level. After Dobbs, the Republicans now have to deal with living up to those promises in a nation where there is support for limiting some abortions, but not for eliminating it altogether.

Sensing this weakness, the Democrats capitalized on the states that went ahead with strict abortion bans (or had them dormant to be activated by a repeal of Roe) to paint the Republicans as the party of eliminating all abortion and rode that line to an electoral victory in that same year. They are trying that same playbook in 2024.

However, in recent weeks, two state supreme court rulings have thrust abortion back into the public discourse.

Alabama Embryo Ruling

In February, the Supreme Court of Alabama ruled that their state constitution recognizes embryos as human children, and should be afforded the legal rights as such. This concept has been a long-held belief pro-life movement– that a new life is present at conception, and that people shouldn’t get the right to decide whether someone dies just because they are inside the mother’s uterus.

The controversy was that this impacted In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), which is a technique where many embryos are created outside of the womb and implanted into mothers of couples who are having difficulty getting pregnant. The court ruled that those families who had embryos disposed of could sue for damages as the companies storing them were storing the couple’s children.

Republicans, not wanting to be seen as anti-family, quickly condemned the ruling, putting themselves into an awkward situation. It stated to all that they were pro-family, but it told the pro-life movement that they may not actually be pro-life, just used the pro-life cause to get votes. Or at least that they don’t truly believe the Pro-life movement’s arguments.

Arizona’s 123-Year-Old Abortion Law

Within this past week, the Arizona Supreme Court held that an abortion law from 1864/1901 was still enforceable. This law, which would have been passed shortly after Arizona was admitted as a state, prohibits almost all abortions and has prison time for the mothers and abortionists. This is as close to a law that the abortion abolitionists would support and was met with fierce resistance by the Republicans.

Kari Lake, who ran for Governor of Arizona in 2020 and is running for the US Senate this year, fully denounced this decision, and many other Republicans stated that this law is archaic and not where Arizonians are at present. They would prefer a more modern law that was passed that stated that abortions would be outlawed after fifteen weeks. This further illustrates that the Republicans were not totally Pro-Life in their beliefs, and could hurt them.

Former President Trump’s Statement on Life

Politically, former President Trump (coming out right before the Arizona ruling) tried to distance his campaign from this topic. Realizing that President Biden’s team would try to get the same result as the 2022 election this year, he decided to state that the decision should be made by the states for now, and is not something he is seeking at the federal level.

Of course, that won’t stop the Biden team from saying he doesn’t actually believe this. They want to be able to use abortion as a wedge issue, and if Trump can politically navigate away from it, he probably has a good chance of neutering this line of attack. As long as he can get other federal Republicans to agree.

The problem is that abortion is both a political and practical problem. It’s practical because abortion is actually the taking of a life. It’s political because not everyone believes this, and if you only ever hold the abolitionist view, you will never win office. So you’re back to voting for the least worse option– which was your only option in the first place.

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