For years, Republicans across the conservative spectrum could define themselves as “pro-life,” a unifying umbrella in opposition to Roe v. Wade. But with the end of Roe came the end of unity on the issue.
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“The vast majority of people in my district don’t like what happened after Roe was overturned,” she told “Meet the Press” in January. “They support women’s right to choose, generally. But I have spoken to Republican and Democrat women, and the folks in my district, swing voters, are willing to find some middle ground here. Everyone recognizes abortion up until birth is not something that they want. And at the same time, banning all abortions with zero exceptions isn’t something people support.”
But physicians say the chasm between allowing abortion “up until birth” and a “total ban” is vast. Kristin Lyerly, a Wisconsin OB/GYN and member of the Committee to Protect Health Care’s Reproductive Freedom Taskforce, said the bans on different gestational weeks are “arbitrary” and “reflects their total inability to understand that this is healthcare, not politics.”
“These are individualized healthcare decisions that we’re making here that can’t be based on a number. It’s just completely arbitrary. And it doesn’t make any sense at all from a medical perspective,” she said.
But exceptions can be subjective, and fear of criminal penalty creates a chilling effect on doctors and patients, which some argue inherently creates additional restrictions. At the State of the Union address earlier this week, a couple from Texas who experienced this firsthand joined the first lady. Amanda and Josh Zurawski were expecting a baby when Amanda’s water broke at 18 weeks; she eventually developed a life-threatening condition after doctors were unsure how to intervene due to the uncertainty around the state’s abortion law.
“There’s been speculation following Dobbs that there are some in Washington, maybe in my own party, who wish to restrict a woman’s ability to travel to another state,” Mace said in a statement. “It is unacceptable and wrong.”
Mace appears to be in the minority in her conference. Last month, at the Republican National Committee winter meeting, the RNC adopted a resolution “affirming the Republican National Committee’s commitment to life.” The resolution urges GOP candidates heading into the next election cycle to “go on offense” and “expose the Democrats’ extreme position of supporting abortion.”
Although it is largely messaging, the move shows the clear divide between party members.
And from Lyerly’s perspective, “There is no moderate option here,” she said, adding “politics needs to get out of the exam room.”
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