Republicans Are Downplaying Abortion, but It Keeps Coming Up

by | Jun 28, 2024 | Health

For generations, the GOP campaigned on eliminating the right to an abortion in the United States. Now, torn between a base that wants more restrictions on reproductive health care and a moderate majority that does not, it seems many Republicans would rather take an off-ramp than a victory lap.

And yet, they just can’t escape talking about it.

The policy high point for abortion opponents — the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to strike down Roe v. Wade — is proving a low point for public support for their cause. More American adults consider themselves “pro-choice” than at any time in the past 30 years, according to a recent survey from Gallup: 54%, compared with 41% who identify as “pro-life.”

The tide is turning even as some conservatives seek restrictions on birth control and fertility treatments. A new KFF survey of women voters found that Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say that abortion is the most important issue in their vote for president — a reversal from recent elections. One in 5 women under age 30 and 13% of those under age 50 said it is their top concern. Among independents, 81% said they believed abortion should be legal.

Democrats are counting on the issue to help turn out their votes and ensure President Joe Biden’s reelection, despite persistent dissatisfaction with his leadership. Abortion could prove particularly disruptive in battleground states expected to have initiatives on the ballot to enshrine access to abortion in state constitutions, including Arizona and Nevada.

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For generations, the GOP campaigned on eliminating the right to an abortion in the United States. Now, torn between a base that wants more restrictions on reproductive health care and a moderate majority that does not, it seems many Republicans would rather take an off-ramp than a victory lap.

And yet, they just can’t escape talking about it.

The policy high point for abortion opponents — the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to strike down Roe v. Wade — is proving a low point for public support for their cause. More American adults consider themselves “pro-choice” than at any time in the past 30 years, according to a recent survey from Gallup: 54%, compared with 41% who identify as “pro-life.”

The tide is turning even as some conservatives seek restrictions on birth control and fertility treatments. A new KFF survey of women voters found that Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say that abortion is the most important issue in their vote for president — a reversal from recent elections. One in 5 women under age 30 and 13% of those under age 50 said it is their top concern. Among independents, 81% said they believed abortion should be legal.

Democrats are counting on the issue to help turn out their votes and ensure President Joe Biden’s reelection, despite persistent dissatisfaction with his leadership. Abortion could prove particularly disruptive in battleground states expected to have initiatives on the ballot to enshrine access to abortion in state constitutions, including Arizona and Nevada.

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