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Seeing danger, some GOP members wary of Texas abortion law

RICHMOND, Virginia (AP) – Almost instantly after most abortions were banned in Texas, Democrats denounced the new law as unconstitutional, an attack on women’s health that must be challenged. But the reaction of many Republicans on the other side has not been so emphatic.

While some GOP members are celebrating the moment as a long-awaited victory for the anti-abortion movement, others downplay the meaning of the Supreme Court ruling at midnight Wednesday that allowed the bill to go into effect. . Some even criticize the court and the law.

Or by dodging.

“I’m pro-life,” said Republican Glenn Youngkin, a GOP gubernatorial candidate in increasingly Democratic Virginia, where the nation’s only open gubernatorial race is in November. Pressed on Texas law by a reporter, he quickly noted that he supported exceptions in cases of rape, incest and where the mother’s life is in danger – exceptions notably not included in the new law.

The mixed reactions illustrate the political risks for the GOP as their anti-abortion allies truly begin to achieve the goals they have long sought. Americans hardly agree on the issue, and loudly defend the country’s toughest restrictions – in Virginia or on political battlefields like Georgia, Arizona or Florida – in the mid-election. – Mandate for next year will not be without danger.

“This will be a very motivating question for women who have generally not been pro-choice single-question voters,” Republican pollster Christine Matthews said. This includes suburban women and independents in the Swing House districts and competitive governor races who in previous elections did not believe Roe v. Wade was in serious jeopardy, Matthews said.

Texas’ new law poses the biggest threat to date to the 1973 Supreme Court ruling establishing the right to abortion. Polls suggest the decision still enjoys broad support – 69% of voters in last year’s election said Roe v. Wade should be left as is, compared with just 29% saying it should be canceled, according to AP VoteCast, a voter poll.

Democrats and abortion rights advocates, who have at times been frustrated by voters taking access for granted, vowed on Thursday to use the moment to wake people up. They have promised to go after not only the GOP candidates and office holders who support the Texas measure and others like it, but also the companies that support them. Some have rekindled calls to end Senate filibuster rules in order to give abortion a better chance of making it through Congress.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House would vote soon on the codification of Roe v. Wade, although the chances in the Senate are almost nil.

Virginia Democratic candidate for governor Terry McAuliffe has already made abortion a key issue. He points to a secretly recorded video in which Youngkin tells a woman posing as an abortion opponent that he supports funding for Planned Parenthood but cannot speak publicly about it because “as a campaign subject, unfortunately. , that will not win my independent votes. that I need to get.

On Thursday, McAuliffe warned that if Youngkin wins and the Republicans take control of State House, “there’s a good chance we can see Virginia go the way of Texas.”

Texas law prohibits abortions once healthcare professionals can detect heart activity, usually around six weeks and often before women know they are pregnant. Rather than being enforced by government authorities, the law gives citizens the right to bring civil suits and collect damages against anyone assisting with an abortion.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, tweeted that she wanted her office to compare her state’s laws with the new Texas law “to make sure we have the strictest pro-life laws in force in the SD “.

But such opinions were hardly universal in his party.

In South Carolina, Republican Gov. Henry McMaster this year signed a restriction requiring doctors to perform ultrasounds to check heart activity and banning abortion if found, unless the pregnancy was caused by an rape or incest, or that the mother’s life is in danger.

When asked Thursday if he would support a Texas-style bill, such as a no exceptions bill for rape and incest, McMaster said he views South Carolina law as ” superior “.

Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine called the Texas law “extreme and harmful.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell downplayed the Supreme Court’s action as a “highly technical decision.”

Indeed, the conservative majority court did not rule on the constitutionality of Texas law. Rather, the judges refused to block its implementation and issued a brief statement saying the ruling “in no way limits other procedural challenges to Texas law, including in Texas state courts.”

The role of judges ensures that the composition of the court will be part of the renewed political debate. Liberal lawmakers backed by advocates who helped propel President Joe Biden to power want to increase the number of judges to rebalance power.

“Democrats can either abolish filibuster and expand the tribunal or do nothing as the bodies, rights and lives of millions of people are sacrificed for the rule of a far-right minority,” wrote Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y., on Twitter.

While a majority of Americans support Roe v. Wade, opponents of abortion were generally more likely to let the issue determine their votes. According to AP VoteCast, only 3% of voters in the 2020 presidential election called abortion the biggest problem facing the country, but they leaned heavily on Republican President Donald Trump, just 89% 9% for Democrat Biden. In a separate question, 18% of voters called Supreme Court appointments the “most important factor” in their presidential votes. Those voters leaned towards Biden by a relatively narrow margin, from 53% to 46%.

A June poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that most Americans think abortion should be restricted after the first trimester, but about 6 in 10 said it should generally be legal during the first three months of pregnancy. More than 8 in 10 people said it should be legal in cases of rape or incest.

The survey found that young adults are particularly likely to support legal abortion. Sixty-three percent of people under 45 said abortion should generally be legal, compared to 51 percent of people 45 and over. Yet even young adults support certain limits on abortion depending on the time of pregnancy, with majorities in all age groups saying most abortions should be illegal by the third trimester.


Emily Swanson in Washington and Meg Kinnard in Houston contributed to this report. Burnett reported from Chicago.

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