Trump is right: Republicans need to reframe the abortion debate

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The pro-life movement accomplished its goal: overturning the judicial precedent of Planned Parenthood v. Casey and Roe v. Wade through the conservative-leaning Supreme Court in the summer of 2022. In the blockbuster case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court opinion, authored by Justice Samuel Alito, ruled in 5-1-3 decision that: “We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely—the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.” 

Simply put, abortion policy was now up to individual states, not the courts. For decades, the conservative pro-life movement lobbied for the overturning of Roe and allowing states to make abortion policy through their state representatives. And through President Trump’s appointment of three Supreme Court justices, this happened. However, abortion at the federal level has caused Republicans issues with the electorate. 

Republicans need to learn how to message this delicate conversation, or we could face undertows going into November, just like we did in the 2022 midterms. President Trump’s recent policy announcement on abortion is smart: protect IVF, oppose a federal abortion ban, create a pro-life culture, and exceptions for rape, incest, and health of the mother. 


Abortion has been a galvanizing issue for Democrats across the country. In the 2022 midterm elections, prior to Roe being overturned, Republicans were gearing up for a red wave because of Joe Biden’s unpopularity, higher inflation, and the chaos at the southern border. Even after the historic Supreme Court ruling, polling continued to look good for Republicans in purple and red-leaning House districts, as well as Senate races in Nevada, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Arizona. 

The economy and inflation dominated most of the conversation nationally, which gave Republicans an advantage over Democrats, simply because they controlled the White House and Congress, and voters did not like the reckless spending and lack of security at the border. However, exit polling shows that abortion was an undercurrent issue in the 2022 midterm elections. In fact, although inflation was rated as the top issue to voters, abortion was a close second. 

According to NBC News, 32 percent of voters ranked inflation as the top issue, while 27 percent ranked abortion as their top issue. Voters trusted Republicans by an 8 point margin to handle inflation, while they trusted Democrats by a 10 point margin to handle abortion. The data found that 39% of voters were angry about the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision in June and that 21% more voters felt dissatisfied with the ruling.

 That’s compared to 21% of voters nationwide who said they were satisfied with the Dobbs decision and 16% more who said they felt enthusiastic about it. In what should have been a year where House Republicans had a strong majority, instead we had a very slim majority. Republicans had high hopes for flipping the Senate, instead Democrats maintained control of the upper chamber. 


Going into the 2024 election, Republicans have dominated the major issues that matter to Americans: inflation/economy and immigration. Joe Biden remains deeply unpopular, as voters do not approve of his handling of the key issues and have soured on his leadership

President Trump is in a strong position to win, leading Joe Biden nationally, in key swing states, and on the policy issues that matter to voters. Republicans are on offense in the Senate, particularly in states Trump won in 2020: Montana and Ohio. He is polling ahead of Biden in other toss-up races such as Arizona, Nevada, and Pennsylvania, which make these prime pickup opportunities for Republican challengers for the Senate. 

There have been conversations among Republican campaign operatives to settle on a 15-week federal abortion ban, while highlighting the three major exceptions: rape, incest, and health of the mother. 

The politics of abortion policy does not favor Republicans, it favors Democrats and helps them with independent voters who do not approve of federal abortion bans. Recent Fox News polling shows that a record number of Americans say that abortion should be legal. That includes increased support among voters ages 65 and older (+16 points should be legal), conservatives (+12), Republicans (+11), and White evangelical Christians (+10). Voters oppose a 15-week ban by 11 points (54% oppose vs. 43% favor). 

The reality of governing math simply does not line up either: let’s say Republicans win Ohio, Montana, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nevada, West Virginia and Maryland. That would bring us to 58 seats in the U.S. Senate. You need 60 votes to pass a federal abortion ban, with Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, and Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, you lose two votes. 


On top of this, if former Republican Gov. Larry Hogan were to win his Senate race in Maryland (he is pro-choice), it would result in another vote against a ban. Arizona Senate candidate Republican Kari Lake is also against a federal abortion ban and that would be another vote lost. 

Simply put: Republicans do not have the votes in the Senate for a federal abortion ban. Why would Republicans run on a federal abortion ban that is 11 points underwater and has zero chance of becoming law in Congress? 

President Trump is right to take the position that Republicans should not be pushing for a federal abortion ban, which has no chance of passing even if Republicans sweep the Senate map in 2024. Instead, Republicans should talk more about policies that will help create a pro-life, pro-family culture, instead of speaking about federal abortion bans. 

This would be a stark contrast with Democrats who are truly radical on abortion, including 2022 legislation aimed at codifying Roe, which allowed abortion up to 9 months with no restrictions. Late-term abortion is opposed by the majority of Americans. States will take care of the issue, just like President Trump has rightfully pointed out.  


Even in red states like Ohio, ballot initiatives on abortion rights have passed. And voters in Kansas rejected an amendment that would have declared citizens had no right to an abortion. 

Republicans should focus more on policies that help families and women instead of unrealistic federal abortion bans. If this election is a referendum on Joe Biden because of his unpopular handling of the economy and the border, Republicans are in a good place to win. If it is about abortion, the waters get murky. 


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