Republican Shift: Fresh US Abortion Bans Reveal Clever Messaging Tactics
Nebraska and North Carolina Republicans Alter Abortion Messaging
“Common Sense” Abortion Laws Conceal Stricter Restrictions
In an effort to overcome repeated failures in passing stricter abortion bans, Republicans in certain US states have adopted a different strategy by promoting so-called “common sense” abortion laws. These laws are positioned as more lenient alternatives to outright bans, but closer examination reveals that they are, in fact, more restrictive than they initially appear.
Nebraska Takes a Step Forward with a 12-Week Ban
Recently, Nebraska’s state legislature successfully passed a 12-week ban, following closely on the heels of a similar ban that cleared its final hurdle in North Carolina. While Republican lawmakers in Nebraska praised this ban as a compromise, their Democratic counterparts strongly disagreed. State Senator Machaela Cavanaugh expressed her dissatisfaction, labeling the legislature as “morally bankrupt” and eagerly awaiting the day she no longer had to serve alongside them. Cavanaugh had previously filibustered for countless hours in an attempt to prevent the bill’s passage, highlighting that the abortion ban was attached to an anti-trans measure.
Shifting Stances: From Co-sponsorship to Opposition
Interestingly, just two weeks earlier, a six-week ban in Nebraska was derailed, partly due to the change in stance by one of its original co-sponsors, Republican State Senator Merve Riepe. Riepe considered the ban too extreme, recognizing that many women are unaware of their pregnancy at such an early stage. Prior to the vote, Riepe distributed a news article warning of the negative impact abortion was having on the Republican party. Notably, public opinion polls consistently indicate that a majority of Americans oppose abortion bans.
Implications of Nebraska’s Restrictive Ban
The Nebraska ban lacks exceptions for fetal anomalies or pregnancies incompatible with life and carries the threat of jail time for doctors. Republicans in Nebraska’s technically non-partisan legislature, despite individual affiliations with either the Republican or Democratic party, have positioned the bill as a significant step back from the previous six-week ban. The passage of this ban witnessed Nebraskans filling the statehouse, creating a tumultuous atmosphere that led lawmakers to seek refuge through a back tunnel to avoid angry protesters.
North Carolina Joins the Restriction Trend
North Carolina’s Republican politicians, overriding the Democratic governor’s veto, passed a 12-week ban, which lowers the current limit from 20 weeks. Despite claims that the bill represents a “pro-life plan” rather than an outright ban, the legislation makes obtaining an abortion in North Carolina significantly challenging. The bill particularly limits medication abortion, imposes multiple in-person visits, enforces a 72-hour waiting period, requires ultrasounds, and mandates warnings about unverified medical side-effects.
Uncertain Future for South Carolina’s Abortion Ban
In South Carolina, a six-week abortion ban has progressed to the senate, after several unsuccessful attempts by Republicans to move it forward. However, even if the ban passes, it must withstand scrutiny from the state supreme court, which previously blocked a similar ban. Recent changes in the composition of the court have raised hopes among GOP lawmakers that the ban may be overturned. Republican and Democratic women have formed a united front, employing filibusters to halt the bill’s passage.
Amendments and Potential Consequences
The legislation in question has been burdened with over 900 amendments, many of which were proposed by Democrats to impede its progress. Some of these amendments include holding the state liable for funeral costs resulting from denied abortions and making men financially responsible for child support and half of all pregnancy expenses starting from fertilization.