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How overturning Roe v Wade may cost Republicans the midterms

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How overturning Roe v Wade may cost Republicans the midterms
Reproductive rights transcend party affiliation. This fact could cost the Republicans many votes in the upcoming midterm elections.Photo: Colin Lloyd | Unsplash | All rights reserved

As we approach the U.S. midterm elections on November 8th, 2022, it is important to shine a spotlight on one of the top issues of this year's election: abortion rights. The majority of U.S. citizens disapprove of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v Wade. Even Republicans now seem to be aligning their flags with the headwind. Why? Well, the danger of losing votes is all too real.

In overturning Roe v Wade in June of this year, the Supreme Court struck down the right to abortion, thereby invalidating a constitutional right existing in the United States for over 50 years. With all federal protections on abortion now removed, the legal authority to regulate or prohibit abortions at any point during pregnancy rests with each state. While prominent Republican political figures, alongside anti-abortion groups initially celebrated the Supreme Court’s ruling, the disapproval among the majority of Americans soon became evident. Sparking protests all across the country, public trust in the Supreme Court has never been lower.

Republicans rowing back on their stance on abortion

Although all five Supreme Court justices who voted to overturn Roe v Wade were Republican appointees, Republican political candidates currently running for spots in the house and senate in the midterm elections do not seem as clear concerning their views on abortion rights. Having to suddenly come up with voter-friendly solutions on the state-level and, for the first time, consider all the subtle nuances surrounding abortion rights, it seems many Republicans are stumped. Instead of clearly stating their opinions, Republicans seem to be distracting from or avoiding the topic altogether. Seeing that favoring a total abortion ban with no exceptions could cost them votes and jeopardize their victory, some Republicans are now even backtracking on their previous stances. GOP Senate nominee in Arizona, Blake Masters, for example has scrubbed his campaign website of any anti-abortion rhetoric, a trend copied by many of his fellow Republican midterm candidates. Although they are now putting forward more liberal views to their voter base, whether Republicans will keep their new softened stances if elected in November or whether they will continue to flip-flop on the highly polarizing issue of abortion rights remains unclear.

The staunch opposition to abortion rights among the Republican Party seems unrepresentative of the majority of the American public, potentially giving a strong upper hand to the Democratic Party.

Zoe Krueger Weisel

Furthermore, Republicans need to be concerned not only about their own constituency, but also about the Democratic voter turnout in this year's elections. While around two-thirds of Democrats cite abortion access to be the top motivating factor for them to vote, it is especially the case for women, specifically those of reproductive age. Seeing as young people often sit out the midterms, their votes could majorly impact this year's election results in favor of the Democratic Party. Following the Supreme Court’s decision in June, Democrat voters’ motivation to vote in November is even said to have increased.

Despite their victory in the Supreme Court earlier this year, overturning Roe v Wade may have come at Republicans’ own expense, when considering the upcoming midterm elections. The staunch opposition to abortion rights among the Republican Party seems unrepresentative of the majority of the American public, potentially giving a strong upper hand to the Democratic Party.

Rising resistance also in Italy

With nationwide protests in the U.S. still ongoing, we may shift our focus to another country whose access to secure and affordable abortion has recently been put into jeopardy: Italy. After the recent election win by Giorgia Meloni’s far right coalition, abortion rights may no longer be safe. As evidenced by an average of 64 percent of doctors in the north and 84 percent in the south objecting to abortion and refusing to perform the procedure, the process of getting an abortion in Italy has never been easy. In one of the most extreme cases, 32-year-old Valentina Milluzzo died of sepsis in 2016, after doctors denied her a life-saving abortion. Six years and a long battle in court later, four doctors have been charged with murder for the case. In less fatal circumstances, it can be difficult for women to find a legitimate abortion provider, and when they finally do, they have to stand in line for hours, starting in the wee hours of the morning. With the new government in place, access to abortion may soon become even more restricted. However, much like in the U.S., the Italian people and especially Italian women have taken their frustrations and concerns to the streets, as evidenced by countrywide protests and women’s marches.

Other American states to follow in Kansas’ footsteps in midterm elections?

Overall, and regardless of the upcoming midterm election results, what has become clear is that the attempts by Republicans in the U.S. and far-right politicians in Italy to take away or restrict their people’s fundamental human rights and control women’s bodies will not be met with compliance. It seems that in both the Italian and American cases, when citizens feel unheard and unrepresented by their political leaders, they make their voices heard by becoming active, both socially and politically. The payoffs of such efforts can be seen in Kansas, a famously red state, which was first to vote to uphold abortion rights in an election test following the Supreme Court’s ruling. This unexpected outcome clearly shows that reproductive rights transcend party affiliation. Let’s hope the American people in the rest of the U.S. will follow Kansas’ lead and stand up for their constitutional rights on November 8th!

Zoe Krueger Weisel

Zoe Krueger Weisel

Zoe Krueger Weisel is a researcher at the Center for Advanced Studies at Eurac Research. She studied sociology and social research in Germany, the United States and Italy. Due to her own multicultural (German-American-Italian) family background, she is particularly interested in the research fields of globalization, interculturalism and international relations.

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Citation

https://doi.org/10.57708/b143258278
Weisel, Z. How overturning Roe v Wade may cost Republicans the midterms. https://doi.org/10.57708/B143258278

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