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Republicans Are Now Divided on Abortion

The (usually) annual anti-abortion March for Life took place Friday, on the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision. Were the marchers happy? Nope. Were the Republican politicians happy? Also nope. Some of the anti-abortion politicians are even under fire for not being sufficiently anti-abortion.

In particular, Ron DeSantis, who is pretty good about dishing it out (see above), is now having to deal with incoming fire as well. That's is something he is not at all good at handling. For example, vice presidential wannabe and governor of South Dakota Kristi Noem (R-SD) took a potshot at DeSantis for signing a bill last year that allows abortion up to 15 weeks. In her state, almost no abortions are allowed. She's probably aware that taking potshots at DeSantis is something that her would-be boss, Donald Trump, will surely appreciate if and when he needs to choose a running mate in 2024.

DeSantis didn't react to Noem. In fact, he has been uncharacteristically quiet about abortion. He has a B.A. from Yale magna cum laude and a J.D. from the Harvard Law School and is definitely smart enough to know that getting the Republican presidential nomination is only half the battle. He will also need votes from independents in the general election and "no abortions, ever, under any circumstances" could be problematical in 2024. The president of the Florida state Senate, Kathleen Passidomo (R), wants to change the cutoff to 12 weeks. DeSantis could probably support that, but he has to be careful about going whole hog.

DeSantis is not the only one in a bind on abortion post Dobbs. The whole anti-abortion movement is wondering about what to do now, not unlike the dog that has caught the car it was chasing. At one extreme, some activists want Congress to pass a law banning all abortions in all states with no exceptions. Others want to leave it to the states to ban abortions, possibly with some exceptions. Still other activists are focused on banning people from ordering mifepristone from out of state. Finally, some Republican politicians are aware that abortion was on the ballot in six states last year and the pro-choice side won all of them. Also, some politicians who made opposition to abortion the centerpiece of their campaigns went down to defeat. They want abortion banned but don't want to become too closely tied to a position that more than 60% of the country opposes. Consequently, what was once a simple goal for abortion opponents—reverse Roe—has now become vastly more complicated and controversial.

As a consequence of politicians' fear of being too closely associated with a very unpopular position, this year's March for Life didn't draw all the big name speakers it did pre-Dobbs. The only "big-name" Republican politician to show up was House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA). Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) somehow had other plans. Nor were any Republican senators or governors able to make it. For marches past, Presidents Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump showed up. Trump didn't show up this year. Nor did Reagan, but his alibi is that he has been dead for 18 years. Oh, speaking of Trump, in January he blamed the anti-abortion movement for the Republicans' midterm losses, saying that post-Dobbs "they just plain disappeared. not to be seen again." Not all of the leaders took that well.

In short, there is a lot of confusion and disorder among people who oppose abortion and who don't agree on what next. As we have mentioned a few times: "Be careful what you wish for. You might get it." (V)

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