Recently we’ve seen GOP candidates who were among the most vociferous reproductive rights opponents scrub websites and temper stump speeches to feign moderation. Exhibit A is Blake Masters of AZ, who went from calling for fetal personhood to mealy-mouthed assurances that he wouldn’t change anything.
In a sign that some Repubs realize that bait-and-switch may not save them, one Senate Republican is undertaking a risky gambit:
NBC News: Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., will introduce abortion-related legislation on Tuesday, according to his office. It’s expected to call for a 15-week ban nationwide, with exceptions for rape, incest and safeguarding the life of the mother, three sources said. That will give candidates a more popular position to point to when they are pressed about the issue, the sources said. Graham’s office declined to comment on the legislation, which was first reported by The Washington Post.
The Graham bill would be more stringent than current law in most states but less restrictive than the wave of new abortion laws passed in deep red states this summer post-Dobbs. Only a small fraction of abortions take place more than 15 weeks after conception. In 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that roughly 93% of all abortions took place within 13 weeks.
This seems really dumb. Republicans have been building their anti-choice brand for decades, so when the radical clerics on the SCOTUS ripped a 50-year-old right away from half the population, voters knew exactly whom to blame. Graham’s bill won’t pass, but it will bring renewed attention to his party’s role in dismantling long-standing reproductive rights.
Graham’s gambit may also demobilize the anti-choice Republican base. The most energized GOP voters are all about owning the libs, so there’s a chance they’ll see this as snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
Maybe I’m wrong. Graham is a breathtakingly cynical shape-shifter, but he’s held his seat and maintained his party influence by transforming himself into whatever persona South Carolina Republicans favor when election time rolls around. So maybe he knows what he’s doing. I’m skeptical.