Republicans looking for magic formula on abortion

When the US Supreme Court in their Dobbs ruling in 2021 overturned its Roe v. Wade precedent and declared that the constitution did not provide a right to abortion, there was jubilation among the anti-abortion forces. They had finally achieved their dream and red states everywhere started enacting severe restrictions on abortion, some of those having been written in advance of Dobbs and just waiting for the opportunity to pass them.

But the Dobbs decision also galvanized the abortion-rights movement. Some states expanded the right to abortion while state constitutional amendments passed by referendum in Vermont, California, Michigan, Kentucky, Montana, and Kansas. Another is pending in Ohio this November. Furthermore, this issue is seen as playing an important role in increasing Democratic party success in the 2022 mid-term elections, dashing the hopes of Republicans who had been hoping that a ‘red wave’ would give them control of both houses of Congress with large majorities.

Alarmed by the realization that banning or severely restricting the right to abortion is not popular with a majority of voters and that Democrats are using it as a major factor when it comes to generating enthusiasm to register to vote and to vote for their candidates, Republicans are scrambling to find a formula that will enable them to look as if they are not extreme on this issue while at the same time placating their hard right supporters who would like nothing less than a complete ban on all abortions, some of them even opposing any exemption for rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. They seem to think that the formula consists of finding the ‘correct’ number of weeks beyond which abortion is disallowed.

Mike Pence is one of the most hardline of abortion opponents and he seems to be part of a growing number of Republican politicians who support a federal law that bans abortion after 15 weeks that would be binding on all states.

During a CNN town hall in Iowa last month, Pence said he supports a federal abortion ban including exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother. He also backs federal legislation limiting the procedure and has called on other 2024 GOP candidates to support a 15-week national abortion ban.

Pence told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer back in March that he would support legislation restricting abortion to six weeks of pregnancy. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law in his state that banned abortion at six weeks while President Donald Trump has suggested the legislation was “too harsh.”

But a 15-week federal law is likely to be viewed by the anti-abortion zealots as purely symbolic because the vast majority of current abortions are performed within that window.

The vast majority of abortions occur during the first trimester of a pregnancy. In 2020, 93% of abortions occurred during the first trimester – that is, at or before 13 weeks of gestation, according to the CDC. An additional 6% occurred between 14 and 20 weeks of pregnancy, and 1% were performed at 21 weeks or more of gestation. These CDC figures include data from 40 states and New York City (but not the rest of New York).

Serial sex abuser Donald Trump (SSAT) seems to think that Republicans have gone too far in advocating for harsh restrictions on abortion and that they (and more importantly he) are going to take a hit in future elections unless they find that magic formula. But being who he is, he is vague about what his formula actually is, as evidenced by the many different answers that he gave on this topic in his interview with Kristen Welker. But there is no magic number that commands majority support.

A majority even oppose bans after six weeks. So we are going to see more and more Republican confusion on this issue as they try to placate the anti-abortion zealots among their supporters while also trying not to alienate the majority in the country who feel that some access is necessary.


  1. birgerjohansson says

    It is a good thing that the Republicans increasingly bring their real agenda out in the open (religion controlling the most intimate parts of life, give Big Business campaign donors everything they want)

    instead of the pretend agenda (pro-life, small businesses, the constitution).

    They have at least partially overreached themselves.
    At the same time, the Clinton-era conservative Democrats (who describe themselves as “moderates”) are getting old, and being replaced by new politicians who compare USA with other countries and wonder why USA is lagging behind in so many areas.
    -The old guard did not put up a fight to roll back Dubya’s surveillance state. Nor were they interested in single-payer health insurance. Many cheerfully accept big donations from fossil fuel companies.
    They need to go before there is a serious effort to catch up with the rest of the world.

  2. birgerjohansson says

    I forgot to mention, abortion is just a minor component in the far-right project (as discussed by Bannon et al) to cut down and ultimately abolish the kind of liberal democracy Americans take for granted.
    (See “project 2024” and “agenda 47”)
    The takeover of the supreme court is important for removing checks and balances, the abortion issue is just to get the religious conservatives on board.

  3. sonofrojblake says

    The one that particularly boggles me is the twenty percent who are unsure or oppose the right to travel to another state to do something that’s legal in that destination state. Considering these fuckers are supposed to be the types who want the government to stay the hell out of their business, where do they think the government gets off monitoring their movements and intentions?

    Serious question, I really don’t know and really want to: is there, anywhere in any other area of law in the USA, something that prevents you from going from, say, Florida to Nevada to do something that’s legal in Nevada that isn’t in Florida? (Examples I’m thinking of include engaging the services of a prostitute, gambling on a sporting event or card game, or buying/owning/playing with a ludicrously overpowered firearm. Note: please don’t tell me one or more of those things is legal in Florida or illegal in Nevada, they’re just examples/placeholders).

    I had been given to understand that a large part of the point of Las Vegas was that people who weren’t allowed to gamble legally where they lived could go their and get their gambling rocks off legally, and no busybody in their home state would be able to stop them. Similarly with the the hookers and the guns.

    Anyone in the USA with knowledge, please help.
    Aside: I like to imagine that Trump is incandescent with rage at this fuckery by the Republicans. He obviously doesn’t give two shits one way or the other about abortion, since it doesn’t concern him directly.

    He DOES care about it on just one level -- if the fuckwit nutters at GOP headquarters continue with this nonsense, it really does adversely affect HIS chances of winning the election against Biden. (I’m assuming he believes (correctly IMO) that the Republican nomination is a formality with no realistic prospect of anyone challenging, much less actually beating him to it).

  4. flex says

    #3, sonofrojblake,

    Actually, I think you’ll find that Nevada’s “No-Fault” divorce laws were probably the major contributor to travel from other states to Nevada until the 1970’s.

    Nevada allows a person to claim residency after residing in the state for as little as six weeks. As a resident they could unilaterally petition for a “No-Fault” divorce. So there was an entire industry of rentals. boarding houses, and divorce ranches (which spawned at least 3 movies about women going to specialty divorce ranches for the six week stay), letting people stay long enough to claim residency and then get their divorce. The gambling industry developed because it was legal, and the people who could afford to take a six week vacation in Nevada were fairly well off and had nothing else to do.

    Most other states required a reason for divorce; like abandonment, cruelty, mental illness, or adultery. And evidence to prove these reasons, not just an affirmation. If there was evidence that a couple conspired to generate evidence or that they were both guilty of one of the reasons given, the courts would deny the divorce. Different judges used different standards, so judges which didn’t look to closely were identified and couples who wanted a divorce would try to get on their docket. The other states felt that keeping marriages together was in the “public interest”. In the 1950’s some other states started to look at “No-Fault” divorces and by the 1970’s all states offered some form of “No-Fault” divorce.

    For what it’s worth, according to an article in The Rolling Stone, some of the recent Republican parties in various states have started agitating to limit, or even eliminate, “No-Fault” divorce in their states. Because of course they are.

  5. says

    @3 sonofrojblake
    I am not a lawyer, nor do I pretend to be an expert, but as far as I am aware there is nothing like you have described. In fact, the whole Las Vegas thing you mentioned was encapsulated in a commercial catchphrase: “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”. It’s an unspoken rule.

    As far as the 20% is concerned, it makes perfect sense if you remember that it is NOT sufficient for conservative evangelicals to follow the rules in order to get into Heaven. The “evangelical” part means that they have to go out and convert others, and failing that, at least do whatever they can to make others follow the rules. So yeah, theocracy it is.

    If the Dems have any brains (and that is somewhat in doubt for the corporate Dems), they will point out over and over that the conservatives who control the GOP have been emboldened and are showing you what they really want, that 6 week abortion bans is not the end of it. It is the BEGINNING of what they really want, and that’s a christo-fascist state. Maybe they can pretty up the language a bit over my wording, but that’s a message that needs to be hammered into people’s heads over and over. And clearly, it’s not hyperbole, it’s the reality.

  6. says

    The only thing that I can think of that even comes close to this idea of preventing people going from one state to another in order to do something (and it isn’t even that close) is the Fugitive Slave Act. If a slave escaped to a “free state”, the so-called owner could demand that the slave be returned. Of course, this was due to the fact that the slave was seen as property rather than as a person. There are regulations about moving things across state lines that are illegal in the destination state, but I still can’t think of anything where a person is not allowed to go to another state in order to do something in that other state that might be illegal in the origin state. When I was a teenager, it was well-known that you could travel to another state (or county) where the drinking laws were more lax, and there was nothing that anyone could do about that (of course, if you drove back while intoxicated, that’s another story).

    It should be noted, though, that there are efforts to force states to recognize things from other states regardless of legality in the destination, specifically, a major goal is to force a state with strict gun laws to accept an individual’s license to openly carry a gun in another state. If they can get that through the courts, all hell breaks loose. It’s the exact opposite of “state’s rights”. If this does happen, then in retaliation, a state like NY or California could issue a “license to obtain an abortion” in that state, which would have to be recognized in the origin state. It would be a legal nightmare. Mind you, some things are recognized across state borders (like a driver’s license, but then I don’t know of any states where driving is illegal).

  7. Pierce R. Butler says

    jimf @ # 5: … a commercial catchphrase: “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”. It’s an unspoken rule.

    A (n inter?)nationally advertised slogan seems about as spoken as you can get. Fortunately, it’s (so far) unenforced.

    jimf @ # 6: … this idea of preventing people going from one state to another in order to do something …

    IANAL either, but I do recall the Mann Act of 1910 (still in effect, but amended), which notoriously forbade (forbids?) “transporting a young girl across state lines for immoral purposes”. Though apparently intended to stop what we now call “sex trafficking of minors”, it was also used to block taking advantage of different “ages of consent” in various states.

  8. lanir says

    Anti-abortion extremists want to fantasize that they’re saving children.

    Republican extremists want to fantasize that the real world only matters when it agrees with them.

    I don’t know how you deal with the confluence of those things. Ideally the anti-abortion crowd would have been tailoring their approach for the last 50 years. To fine-tune their laws to accomplish what they want with the bare minimum disruption of people’s lives. Or with their abject failure to do that before now, they could be actively working on it. They’re not. If they’re only acknowledging facts that agree with their ideas then they definitely won’t ever fix the problems their laws are causing. To do that they’d have to admit those problems exist in the first place.

    Not sure what other republicans or anyone else for that matter can do to break through here. I guess wait for the less extreme Republican voters to notice Fox News & friends is lying to them? Or maybe all those old white men in the US Senate can keep an aspirin between their knees to show solidarity with the vagina carrying humans they want to control?

    Ok, yeah, we’re screwed.

  9. sonofrojblake says

    @7 yeah I did vaguely recall the “transporting a minor across state lines” thing. Is it still a thing? It always sounded to me like one of those laws drafted deliberately to be so subjective in its application that in practice it would end up being the equivalent of “coughing without due care and attention” -- something you’d charge someone with if you didn’t like the look of them.

    In case you didn’t catch the reference:

    And an explanation of the punchline:

  10. friedfish2718 says

    Abortion and Slavery have something in common: the valuation of humans as chattel.
    There is a difference between Abortion and slavery: Death is the centerpiece, the focus of Abortion; Slavery focuses on Labor Exploitation, not Death.
    Abortion and Slavery has something in common: the USSC has given the legal OK to both institutions.
    Abortion and Slavery has something in common: the USSC has not made Slavery illegal; the USSC has not made Abortion illegal.
    The 13th and 14th Constitutional Amendments made Slavery illegal and unconstitutional. The Dobbs decision states that Abortion is not a federal right and states (correctly) that the States can and should decide on abortion laws.
    Different States have different minimum age for marriages. Is there any need to compel the USSC to decide on a federal mandate on marriage minimum age? Answer: No. The failure and consequent abrogation of the 18th Amendment demonstrates the folly of Federal mandates on issues best handled by the States. Unfortunately this lesson has to be learned again and again first hand on issues such as Drugs, Sexual Norms, Education, and Abortion.
    The Left claims to be “INCLUSIVE”. The Left claims to “include” the marginalized, the victimized, the oppressed, the exploited. And yet the Left EXCLUDES the “unwanted” unborn human who merits -- according to the Left- one fate and one fate only: Death via Abortion. “Unwanted” is in quotes for who decides who is unwanted? The parents? Society? If a 2 year-old becomes unwanted by the parents, do said parents have the right to kill the child? The Left is egocentric, with an absolute belief that the Left is the Ultimate Judge. While the Left advocates Abortion, the Right establishes Pre-Natal Care, Foster Homes, Orphanages, Adoption. While advocating for mass migration (preferably illegal), the Left proclaims: “There is no such thing as an illegal human! All humans are legal!!” And yet for the Left, the “unwanted” unborn human is given illegal status and thus needs to be excluded from the community of humans and thus deserves to be killed via the Leftist Sacrament called Abortion.
    A Society that has Abortion as a policy has an innate desire for Suicide.
    In the fear of Poverty through overpopulation, the ancient Greeks used Abortion (and to a lesser degree, homosexuality) as birth control. In Ancient Greece, abortion was used to enforce a zero population growth policy. An abortion culture brings about a degradation of family culture and population decline. The Roman conquest of Ancient Greece was much easier than Roman generals expected. The historical account by Polybius described numerous Greek villages as being half empty. There were no previous epidemics to explain the depopulation. Polybius explained that abortion encouraged various hedonistic drives with men becoming disinterested in building families. Polybius (Book XXXVI), Chapter 5 (Macedonian War):

    “… For instance, take the following case. In our own time the whole of Greece has been subject to a low birth-rate and a general decrease of the population, owing to which cities have become deserted and the land has ceased to yield fruit, although there have neither been continuous wars nor epidemics. If, then, any one had advised us to send and ask the gods about this, and find out what we ought to say or do, to increase in number and make our cities more populous, would it not seem absurd, the cause of the evil being evident and the remedy being in our own hands? For as men had fallen into such a state of pretentiousness, avarice, and indolence that they did not wish to marry, or if they married to rear the children born to them, or at most as a rule but one or two of them, so as to leave these in affluence and bring them up to waste their substance, the evil rapidly and insensibly grew. For in cases where of one or two children the one was carried off by war and the other by sickness, it is evident that the houses must have been left unoccupied, and as in the case of swarms of bees, so by small degrees cities became resourceless and feeble. …”
    One can have a culture of Life or a culture of Death (ABORTION). Abortion advocates are pushing for Culture of Death. The American Left is for Culture of Death. Look at China: in 1980 they enforced the 1-child policy. Now they are in population decline and now the CCP allows for 3-child family with no success. Will China -- at some point -- force its citizens to bear children? Communism, Good luck with that. Socialism is big on Means of Production and people are definitely Means of Production: one can estimate the future value of Production for each prospective baby. The dystopia of “the Handmaiden’s Tale” will occur not under Conservatism but under Collectivism.
    The goal of politics is not providing Truth (Physical, Moral, Societal) to society, is not providing Prosperity (Material, Cultural, Spiritual) for the citizenry, but to accumulate Votes. Harvest them votes by all means necessary, baby!!! It is thus not surprising for politicians to pursue deception, to embrace immoralities (such as abortion) to gain votes. The crowd’s will, the mob’s desire does not define morality.

  11. Holms says

    Lots and lots of bad analogies. I’ll only bother with one:

    Abortion and Slavery have something in common: the valuation of humans as chattel.
    There is a difference between Abortion and slavery: Death is the centerpiece, the focus of Abortion; Slavery focuses on Labor Exploitation, not Death.

    You have abortion backwards. The valuation involved with abortion is self determination, body autonomy, as the one seeking an abortion is deciding who has access to her body’s labour. This is the opposite of chattel.

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