Abortion is as big as Donald Trump in the Republican primary

WASHINGTON—On a debate stage in Pennsylvania last week, the growing Senate Republican primary candidate Kathy Barnette got personal. “I am the byproduct of rape. My mother was eleven years old when I was conceived, my father was 21. I was not just a group of cells. As you can see, I’m not just a group of cells yet. My life has value.”

She was referring to the recent leak of the Supreme Court’s draft majority opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, and immediately turned it into a political attack on Trump-endorsed candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz, who recently became a self-proclaimed “Pro-Life.”

Oz defended himself. “I operated on small children, just a few days old, and witnessed the majesty of their hearts beating blood,” he said. “I would never think of harming that child, not even nine months before. Because life begins at conception.

David McCormick, the other candidate in the race, who appears locked in a tie with his rivals in the polls, has also taken a hard line on abortion bans, including in cases of rape or incest, except in “the very few.” rare cases where there should be exceptions for the life of the mother.”

The race for the nomination for the open Senate seat there in Pennsylvania (the vote is Tuesday) has been weird all along, with Trump endorsing Oprah’s former TV doctor (dismissed as a charlatan by the New England Medical Journal, among others). and the presence in the race of wild card Barnette, who has a history of making offensive comments against LGBTQ people (including at the Canada Free Press) and Muslims, and hawking far-right conspiracy theories.

But ever since the Supreme Court opinion was leaked, the Republican primary turmoil has centered on abortion above all else, with each candidate trying to show he will take a harder line than the others against its legality.

That race leading up to the midterm elections in November was always going to be important and influential. It is a true swing state (supporting Trump in 2016 and Biden in 2020, each time by small margins) that reflects the country’s polarization in its urban-rural divide: James Carville famously said, “Pennsylvania is Pittsburgh to the west, Philadelphia in the East, with Alabama in the middle.” Because the Senate seat is open (the incumbent Republican is retiring), the race is a bit tricky. It could be one of the few contests that decide which party controls the Senate .

But now it’s also becoming a foretaste of how the impending Supreme Court decision on abortion is shaking up the election.

Democrats in Washington and across the country have been suggesting that the sudden loss of reproductive freedom will propel generations of women who don’t normally vote to the polls. Last week, the Senate vote on a doomed bill to entrench Roe v. Wade in the law was carried out for the explicit purpose of “getting everyone registered,” that is, to provide a voting record that Democrats could use as a electoral wedge against Republicans.

But as you can see, more Republican MAGA candidates than you in Pennsylvania are leaning toward the decision, at least in the primaries, promising voters that they will be the ones to shut down the clinics.

It’s not just in Pennsylvania. In Georgia, which holds its primary election on May 24, state Republican candidates have vowed to recall the legislature to implement even stricter abortion bans than the law already on the books that would ban any abortion after about six weeks. , and the six Republicans running for the Senate nomination have pledged to support the bans even in cases of rape and incest. Republican Senate candidates in North Carolina, Ohio, New Hampshire and Florida are also promising near-total bans, according to a recent summary by Axios.

What may be a popular move in his party, long the home of anti-abortion voters, during primaries, when only votes from outspoken supporters count. But it’s a big gamble in the general election when they’ll need to attract undecided voters and count on those voters going to the polls when no presidential candidate is on the ballot.

Especially considering that in a place like Pennsylvania, the largest bloc of swing voters credited for Joe Biden’s last presidential election are middle-class women living in the suburbs. And that the two big cities in the state are home to large populations of young people who most likely support reproductive choice.

Certainly, the pro-abortion movement is counting on abortion rights as a motivation for those voters. “There are few things as monumental as a federal ban on the right to control your own body that will get women to the polls,” Sonia Ossorio, president of the National Organization for Women of New York, recently told the New York Post. “This is going to be a huge galvanizing moment.”

However, there are many analysts who are not so sure, reasoning that people may lose interest in the issue in the months between now and the elections. Once it’s out of the headlines, some think, it will fade from voters’ minds and they’ll go back to worrying about inflation.

However, it is hard to see that happening if both sides are pushing the issue to the top of the agenda.

If the Supreme Court issues a decision similar to the leaked draft, and it still may not, it is sure to have far-reaching effects on the lives of American women and the laws of the country. And even before it’s officially launched, as you can see by looking at the scene in Pennsylvania, it’s already reshaping the politics of elections. It is not yet clear what form they will take.

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