Anti-Choice Extremists Make National Abortion Bans A 2024 Litmus Test

As potential 2024 GOP candidates push for extreme anti-abortion restrictions, a major anti-abortion group is giving 2024 Republicans two options: Support an extreme national abortion ban or risk losing their support.

Associated Press: Anti-abortion activists aim to sway GOP White House hopefuls
By Sara Burnett and Jill Colvin

  • Emboldened anti-abortion activists are looking to the 2024 presidential election as an opportunity to solidify their influence over the Republican Party.
  • Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, the most influential group in the anti-abortion movement, is telling each potential GOP presidential hopeful that to win its backing — or avoid being a target of its opposition — they must support national restrictions on the procedure. Exceptions in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother are acceptable, the activists say, but leaving the question for states to decide is not.
  • “It is a level of protection that goes to every single state. That’s the baseline of what we’re looking to do,” said Frank Cannon, Susan B. Anthony’s chief political strategist. “Anything less than that will not be acceptable and will not be somebody that SBA can support. So, it’s that simple.”
  • That directive is creating an early litmus test for Republicans considering entering the first presidential election since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that enshrined federal protections for abortion for roughly 50 years. While the hard-line stance could please anti-abortion activists who hold sway in GOP primaries, it could create problems for the party’s eventual nominee in the general election.
  • Voters protected abortion rights via ballot measures in six states in 2022, including Kansas, a state former President Donald Trump twice won by double-digit margins. AP VoteCast, a survey of the midterm electorate, showed the Supreme Court’s decision was broadly unpopular. About 6 in 10 said they were angry or dissatisfied by it, and roughly the same percentage said they favor a law guaranteeing access to legal abortion nationwide.
  • Supporters of abortion rights say the issue was a “game changer” that helped Democrats last year and that will motivate voters even more in 2024, after two years of seeing the effects of restrictions.
  • Pressure from the anti-abortion movement has put Trump, who announced his third run for the presidency last year, in perhaps the most complicated position.
  • He is arguably more responsible for the overturning of Roe than anyone else, having appointed three anti-abortion Supreme Court justices who backed last year’s ruling. But he has also made clear that he believes pushing any further will hurt Republicans, and he accused anti-abortion leaders of failing to do enough to help GOP candidates in the midterms.
  • SBA Pro-Life America, which raised over $60 million for 2020 campaigns along with its affiliated super PAC, is talking with each potential candidate, Cannon said. While records are being discussed, what matters in 2024 is what policies the candidates prioritize when they announce their bids. SBA’s specific request is to support “at a minimum” a “heartbeat bill” or “pain-capable” bill, he said.
  • Trump’s stance has provided an opening on the right for potential rivals like former Vice President Mike Pence and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, both of whom are evangelical Christians with long-held anti-abortion stances.
  • [Pence’s] advocacy group, Advancing American Freedom, has pushed for Congress to pass legislation including a national abortion ban beginning around six weeks of pregnancy and a bill that would establish legal personhood at conception.
  • Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who was U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under Trump, is another potential candidate who signed abortion prohibitions into law in her state. The 2016 law bans abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy and includes an exception if the mother’s life is in jeopardy but not for cases of rape or incest.
  • Others see abortion as a potential vulnerability for DeSantis. A spokesperson for South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, who is also exploring a potential run, recently unloaded on DeSantis, questioning where he stands on the issue.
  • “Governor Noem was the only Governor in America on national television defending the Dobbs decision,” Ian Fury wrote in an email to the National Review. “Where was Governor DeSantis? Hiding behind a 15-week ban. Does he believe that 14-week-old babies don’t have a right to live?”
  • Cannon stressed that those in the anti-abortion movement are the “foot soldiers” of the Republican Party during elections and comprise a huge percentage of primary voters.
  • “No Republican candidate can win the presidency without the backing of the pro-life movement,” he said.