We’re a little more than two months out from the pivotal midterm elections where Republicans will face voters who are ripshit pissed about the end of Roe v. Wade. And now some conservatives running for Congress seem to be running away from their unpopular anti-abortion views!
Tom Barrett, the Republican nominee for Michigan’s 7th Congressional district, removed a section from his campaign website in which he said he would work to “protect life from conception,” which is anti-abortion speak for favoring a total abortion ban. Barrett, a Michigan state senator, faces pro-choice Democrat Elissa Slotkin in the November election. The website change was first reported by the Detroit News on Saturday.
On the “issues” page of his site, there used to be a final section named “Values” that read:
I am a Christian and I believe our elected leaders have a responsibility to represent the values our faith teaches. Protecting individual rights includes protecting the unborn. Ashley and I have been involved in the pro-life movement our entire lives and as an elected leader, I will always work to protect life from conception.
Barrett’s response to the Detroit News was that he hasn’t changed his views—he’s still opposed to abortion even in the cases of rape or incest. “I don’t watch my own website every day, so I don’t know,” he said. “But I am sure we probably were updating things based upon the issues that were most salient right now, which are inflation, cost of living, crime, border security. Those are really the four pillars that are the leading issues that voters are most concerned with.”
The now-deleted anti-abortion statement was removed from Barrett’s site sometime between August 10 and August 22, according to link archives. As of Monday, following the news story, it appears to have been replaced with a section called “Life,” which has already been tweaked once. The update contains softened language about Barrett’s own views and instead paints Slotkin as extreme.
The first version of this text said:
Senator Barrett has been a consistent pro-life legislator and is endorsed by Michigan Right to Life.
His opponent, is one of the most extreme votes in Congress, supporting expanding abortion in every category. Elissa Slotkin supports partial-birth abortion, taxpayer-funding of abortion, and taking away a parent’s right to know if their minor daughter seeks an abortion.
It now reads:
While Senator Barrett has been a consistent pro-life state legislator, Elissa Slotkin supports some of the most extreme abortion policies of anyone in Congress. She opposes any limits, right up until birth, wants taxpayers to pay for abortions, and wants to take away a parent’s right to know if their minor daughter seeks an abortion.
Slotkin even led the fight to get Google to prevent women from having access to crisis pregnancy centers in search results.
Seems like Barrett is hiding from the fact that he supports policies that are responsible for the horror stories we’ve seen since the fall of Roe: pregnant people being forced to deliver a dead fetus, travel out of state to abort a fetus without a skull, and bring their own vaginal discharge to the hospital so they can get an abortion when their water breaks too early.
As these stories make national headlines, politicians like Barrett are trying to make voters forget what they stand for—and would vote for in Congress—by deflecting attention to their opponents.
We saw close to this exact move late last week, when NBC News reported that Arizona’s Republican nominee for Senate, Blake Masters, removed language from his site saying he supported a federal personhood law that would ban abortion nationwide. (This is despite the fact that Masters said the same thing in interviews, which he cannot delete.) The change came as he released an ad saying he supports banning abortion in the third trimester, and said his opponent Sen. Mark Kelly (D) was lying about Masters’ abortion stances because Kelly’s were so extreme.
Candidates often moderate their positions before general elections, but everyone is paying extremely close attention to this issue in particular, so I don’t think it’s gonna work the way these folks intended.