The GOP’s Abortion Problem

Dr. Malcolm Cross

The Republicans won their 49-year old fight to overturn Roe v. Wade.  Now the abortion issue is hurting their chances to win back the Congress this November.  Republicans must modify their anti-abortion stance to avoid disaster at the polls this fall.

“Be careful what you wish for,” goes the old adage.  “You may get it.”

For almost half a century the Republicans worked to overturn the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision wherein it announced it had discovered a constitutional right to abortion.  What limits should be placed on abortion rights and opportunities has become the dominant issue in the midterm elections, to the detriment of the GOP.  A Republican-backed effort to remove an abortion rights provision from the constitution of ruby-red Kansas was overwhelmingly rejected by the voters.  In four special House elections, Democrats either kept districts expected to go to the GOP or at least won a greater percentage of the vote than they had won in 2020.  Moreover, the Democrats actually flipped Alaska’s lone House seat, defeating Sarah Palin’s bid to retain it for the GOP and electing a Democrat for the first time in 50 years.  

At the base of the GOP’s growing abortion-caused political difficulties is a very simple fact:  Americans by roughly a 2-1 margin support an unrestricted right to an abortion during the first trimester of a woman’s pregnancy, as established by Roe, and opposed the GOP’s successful effort to do away with it.  Moreover, the public is repelled by the reluctance of the GOP to recognize any reasons, other than possibly to save the life of the mother, to permit abortion.

But to avoid electoral disaster this fall, as well as to fashion a more humane, compassionate, and rational policy on abortion, the GOP should do the following:

  • Recognize more legitimate reasons for abortion than many are willing to do now.  At the very least, Republican candidates for office and their supporters should recognize abortion to save the life and health of the mother, to help ease the physical and psychological consequences for women and girls victimized by rape or incest, and to deal with instances in which the fetus suffers from gross and even fatal defects in its development, such as the failure to develop a brain, the development of organs outside rather than inside its body, or any other life-threatening condition (as the relative of someone with Down’s Syndrome, I adamantly oppose the abortion of those with that condition, while favoring the creation of greater resources to aid parents or guardians of those with that condition);
  • Support more research, development, and implementation of sex education and birth control programs, with the purpose of reducing unwanted pregnancies through easier availability of birth control devices and medications and sex education curricula selected for the degree of success they achieve in pregnancy reduction rather than for the ineffective moralizing of unrealistic content;
  • Support more research and development of medical and surgical procedures to address the issues of neonatal health, as well as the health of children and their parents;
  • Support the expansion of MEDICAID and CHIPs programs to ease the burden o pregnancy and child rearing for the poor.

The aforementioned suggestions are by no means exhaustive.  But their adoption by the GOP would help answer the criticisms that their anti-abortion policies are too harsh, punitive, and misogynistic, and demonstrate that the GOP is pro-life at all its stages and not just before birth.

Finally, the GOP should turn the tables on the Democrats.  The Republicans should acknowledge the evil of violence and vandalism against abortion-providing clinics and their staffs, and challenge the Democrats to similarly denounce the growing attacks on pro-life pregnancy care clinics.  Both sides must recognize that violence, whatever the motives claimed by its perpetrators, is illegitimate and dangerous mob rule.  

Also, just as the Democrats exercise their right to attack the GOP’s current anti-abortion policies, so too should the GOP challenge the Democrats to explain their support the abortion of healthy fetuses produced through consensual sex beyond the first trimester.  The overwhelming support of Americans for abortion on demand during the first trimester quickly begins to diminish as the development of the fetus makes it look more identifiably human.  55% of the public oppose abortion in the second trimester, and 71% do so in the third trimester.  

Malcolm L. Cross has lived in Stephenville and taught politics and government at Tarleton since 1987. His political and civic activities include service on the Stephenville City Council (2000-2014) and on the Erath County Republican Executive Committee (1990 to the present).  He was Mayor Pro Tem of Stephenville from 2008 to 2014.  He is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the Stephenville Rotary Club, and does volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America. Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole.

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