Rich Lowry / August 31, 2022

Republicans Can’t Run and Hide on Abortion

Democrats will eagerly fill in the gaps with Handmaid’s Tale-level dystopian accusations of extremism.

The Republican Party only had about a half-century to prepare for the end of Roe v. Wade yet is still scared and confused now that the late, unlamented decision is no longer with us.

It may be that the media is exaggerating the extent that the Dobbs decision has changed the trajectory of the midterms, but there is no doubt that it has energized Democrats and that pro-lifers suffered a signal defeat in a Kansas referendum in early August.

Some Republicans seem to think they can run and hide from the issue, a cowardly tack that won’t work. To the extent that Republicans are vague and non-responsive, Democrats will eagerly fill in the gaps with Handmaid’s Tale-level dystopian accusations of extremism.

Other Republicans apparently believe that they can act as if it is still the pre-Dobbs world when staking out maximalist positions — for instance, bans with no exceptions for rape or incest — had no significant downside because such proposals would never take effect. No more. Most places, this is politically deadly overreach.

The answer here is, to paraphrase Ronald Reagan, simple, if not necessarily easy. Pro-life Republicans should say that they ultimately seek sweeping protections for unborn life but realize that they have to do much more public persuasion and, in the meantime, support a compromise proposal of some sort, say a gestational limit of 15 weeks.

For pro-lifers, this falls painfully short. But it would be in keeping with the trajectory of successful past campaigns of moral and social reform — settle for progress in the right direction, occupy politically defensible ground, and then advance over time.

Meanwhile, abortion restrictions are under assault for allegedly not providing broad and clear enough exceptions for the health of the mother. In a viral video out of South Carolina last week, a Republican state representative said he regretted voting for a heartbeat bill, banning abortion after about six weeks, after he heard an excruciating story of a 19-year-old denied care for her miscarriage.

According to Rep. Neal Collins, a doctor told him the usual standard of care would have potentially involved removing the fetus immediately. But the heartbeat bill supposedly prevented that, and the woman went home to expel the fetus on her own and assume enormous health risk.

The South Carolina law, though, like most such restrictions around the country, stipulates that the prohibition “does not apply to a physician who performs a medical procedure that, by any reasonable medical judgment, is designed or intended to prevent the death of the pregnant woman or to prevent the serious risk of a substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.”

This should have been ample warrant for the young woman to get the appropriate care (and she did end up returning to the medical facility for the requisite treatment). This looks like a case of a bad reading of the law causing unnecessary medical distress and creating a horror story with considerable political resonance.

In a paper on health exceptions, the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute notes: “It would be prudent for state medical boards, state medical societies, state boards of pharmacy, hospital quality committees, and hospital attorneys to provide more detailed guidance to doctors on how to reach a determination that abortion is necessary. Tragically, this type of guidance appears slow in coming.”

It’d also help if Democrats stopped lying about these laws, although that’s not going to happen. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the other day that the Texas pro-life law will “block medical providers from providing life-saving and health-preserving care,” a blatant falsehood. The Texas law has a clear life-of-the-mother exception and explicitly excludes treatment for miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies from its definition of abortion.

At the moment, though, such falsehoods are carrying the day. To find their footing, Republicans will have to be courageous and shrewd, two qualities so far in short supply.

© 2022 by King Features Syndicate

Start a conversation using these share links:

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!

The Patriot Post and Patriot Foundation Trust, in keeping with our Military Mission of Service, are proud sponsors of the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, Folds of Honor, Honoring the Sacrifice, Warrior Freedom Service Dogs, Officer Christian Fellowship, the Air University Foundation, the Naval War College Foundation, and the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation.


“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2023 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.