Republicans seem to be getting exactly what they want on abortion, and yet suddenly none of the party’s top members want to talk about it.
In the past few weeks alone, a Texas judge ruled that mifepristone, one of the medications used to induce an abortion, had been improperly approved by the FDA and should be pulled from the market. A chaotic battle over access to the drug is now playing out in the courts. Meanwhile, under cover of night, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a law banning abortion after six weeks—before most people know they are pregnant.
Donald Trump, the front-runner for the GOP 2024 presidential nomination and the man primarily responsible for Roe v. Wade being overturned, has not commented publicly on any of it.
“President Donald J. Trump believes that the Supreme Court, led by the three Justices which he supported, got it right when they ruled this is an issue that should be decided at the State level,” a Trump campaign spokesman said in a statement to The Washington Post.
Trump has repeatedly touted himself as “the most pro-life president” ever, and yet now he’s evading the issue. His campaign refused to answer questions about what policies he would support if reelected. Other top Republicans have similarly changed their tune when it comes to abortion.
In January, the Republican National Convention urged the party to “go on offense” against abortion rights and pass new restrictions, including six-week bans. But now, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel has begun telling candidates to back a 15-week ban instead. According to the Post, she doesn’t believe the six-week bans are popular or helpful to the GOP (she’s right). And even 15-week bans are tricky: Last year, when Senator Lindsey Graham introduced a federal 15-week abortion ban just before the midterms, many of his colleagues slammed the move. The bill never made it to the Senate floor.
After the initial mifepristone ruling, only a handful of Republicans reacted, most of whom gave mealy-mouthed answers that sought to deflect attention onto other issues. Presidential hopeful Nikki Haley has generally adopted a waffly stance designed not to alienate anyone. She maintains she is “pro-life” but doesn’t “judge anyone who is pro-choice.” Another candidate, Tim Scott, struggled to form a coherent sentence about abortion rights last week but ultimately said he supports a federal ban on abortion after 20 weeks and would consider a ban at 15 weeks.
Simply put, abortion wins elections. Every time an abortion-related issue has been on the ballot, the people vote in favor of protecting reproductive rights, not taking them away. Republicans must know this, but they don’t want to alienate the one-third of Americans who still oppose abortion rights. So rather than address the issue, they’re burying their heads in the sand.