Republican candidates badly underperformed in last week’s midterm elections, in large part due to voters’ anger over the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade—the landmark 1973 abortion rights decision that a strong majority of Americans support. The GOP was supposed to easily win back control of the House and Senate this year, and it only barely managed to flip the House.
Now, Republicans are being forced to come to terms with the fact that their mission for at least the past decade—to strip the country of abortion rights—was a deeply unpopular one. Some of them are scrambling for excuses.
“You can’t really blame the Republicans in Congress or [House Minority Leader] Kevin McCarthy,” Fox News pundit Greg Gutfeld insisted on The Five Tuesday evening, “because they didn’t do the Roe v. Wade reversal. That was the Supreme Court. So it would’ve been far better off if that hadn’t happened.”
Of course, the Supreme Court was only able to overturn Roe because Republicans installed justices to the high court who were handpicked by the Federalist Society to do so.
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The one left-leaning voice on the show, Jessica Tarlov, fired back at Gutfeld: “Well, I’m glad that everyone’s admitting that now,” to which Gutfeld replied, speaking over her, “I say it’s worth it.”
Tarlov continued: “When the decision came down, there were very few Republicans who were thinking that this was going to have the negative impact that it did, because they thought that everyone would just be comfortable with whatever ‘states rights’ means, and that people would just go next door if they needed to have an abortion.”
The televised conversation mirrors the realization that many elected Republicans are finally arriving at, as well. “Abortion played a much bigger role than we’d anticipated,” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said Monday.
Fox News personality Jeanine Pirro also admitted last week that the GOP had no idea how important abortion rights would be in this election. “We thought it was all about the economy, inflation, and crime,” she said on The Five.
So far, Republicans aren’t doing the kind of introspection that would be needed for them to change course on the issue. Jezebel reported last week that anti-abortion groups are blaming Republican candidates for not being louder and more explicit about their plans to ban abortion. On Dr. Mehmet Oz’s loss in Pennsylvania, for instance, Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America president Marjorie Dannenfelser had this to say, per Politico:
“We broke our backs to help him win, but he did a very poor job saying what he would do for the people of Pennsylvania on the pro-life front,” she complained, citing Oz’s refusal to answer whether he would vote for a federal ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. He and other Republicans lost, she added, because they “hoped the issue would go away,” which turned out to be “political malpractice.”
Republican politicians counted on sending abortion “back to the states” as a successful strategy, because that really meant “back to heavily gerrymandered state legislatures that will outlaw it.” The six states that actually put abortion rights to a popular vote—including Kansas, Montana, and Kentucky—all saw them upheld.
The bottom line is that the United States is an unequivocally pro-choice country. And as long as Republicans try to impose their power against the will of the people, they will be punished at the polls.