Whatever anyone’s personal views might be on abortion, it is glaringly obvious that in today’s America a clear majority of voters opposes banning it or placing draconian limitations on it. That’s why every single effort by Republicans to ban or restrict abortion by referendum has failed.
Every. Single. One. Even in red states like Kansas, Montana, and Ohio.
Furthermore, efforts by Republicans to ban or place severe restrictions on abortion have increased Democrat turnout and have resulted in Republicans losing other races that they otherwise should have won. So, the Democrats are now weaponizing this and placing pro-abortion referenda on ballots all over the country to replicate these results.
Republicans had better wake up, start living in the real world, and accept this undeniable fact: In America as it exists today, the harder they try to ban abortion, the more they’re going to empower those who support abortion on demand.
That said, there is a way for Republicans to flip this equation in their favor and start winning again:
First, like I said above, Republicans need to stop trying to force restrictions on abortion that voters won’t accept down those voters’ throats. This is still a government of and by the people, and elected officials who defy the will of the people don’t remain elected very long.
Second, Republicans need to start reading the room and seeing what the people will accept. For example, most voters won’t accept a complete ban on abortion or a ban after just 6 weeks of pregnancy (when some women don’t even know they’re pregnant yet), but they might accept a ban after 12 weeks – the first trimester. That’s because most Americans do believe that the fetus becomes a human life deserving of protection at some point during the pregnancy, even if people disagree on exactly when that happens. So, most Americans support reasonable restrictions to support the fetus when they believe it is a human life. Republicans need to read the room and figure out what restrictions are considered reasonable by a majority of voters, push for those restrictions, and then work incrementally to change hearts and minds toward more protections for unborn babies – a long-term incremental strategy that the Democrats have used very successfully over the past century on numerous issues.
Third, Republicans need to recognize that the Democrats’ agenda of no restrictions whatsoever on abortion – making it legal to kill a baby from conception through birth – and even after – is every bit as unacceptable to a majority of voters as the Republicans’ efforts to ban all abortions. Americans don’t like all-or-nothing extreme positions, especially on difficult issues like abortion, and this creates an opportunity for Republicans to turn the tables on the Democrats by placing referenda on state ballots with reasonable restrictions on abortion that have wide popular support – things like banning late-term abortions and partial birth abortions, requiring life-saving efforts for babies that survive abortion attempts outside of the womb, and prohibiting the use of taxpayer funds on abortions. Place things like that on the ballot, and it will turn the tables on the Democrats: People will show up to vote for those issues and for the Republicans who support them and against the Democrats who oppose them.
The bottom line is that as long as the Republicans keep trying to force abortion bans down the throats of voters who oppose them, they will keep playing into the Democrats’ hands and keep losing not only those referenda but other elections on those ballots they otherwise would and should win. Republicans need to accept that they can’t have everything they want all at once and stop letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. They need to start fighting smart and implement a long-term strategy utilizing the art of the possible – popular initiatives that advance their agenda incrementally, just like the Democrats have been doing.
When the Republicans start doing that, they’ll start winning again.