DENVER (AP) — The anxious-looking women speak directly to the camera, warning that the Colorado Republican U.S. Senate nominee opposes the state’s reproductive rights law and backs the court’s conservative justices. Supreme Court who revoked the constitutional right to abortion this summer.
“It’s not even close,” it is said as the ad for the Democratic senator ends. “We need Michael Bennet to fight for us.”
The place is significant because the man it slams on abortion, businessman Joe O’Dea, is a rare Republican supporter of at least some abortion rights. O’Dea said he would support legislation codifying the protections of Roe v. Wade, although he opposes abortions after 20 weeks except for rape, incest, or to protect the life of the mother.
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Analysts say similarly nuanced positions were once seen as the political sweet spot in the complex world of abortion politics, coming closest to representing the views of the typical voter in conflict. But that could change as abortion restrictions come into effect after Roe fell with the High Court ruling in June.
“We are here in this country, right now, with patients traveling thousands of miles for treatment because politicians have had the opportunity to make even the slightest nuance,” said Adrienne Mansanares of Planned Parenthood Action Colorado during the a recent press conference in support of Benet.
The message from the Democrats: Republicans cannot be trusted on the issue, regardless of their personal beliefs.
In New Hampshire, Democrats go after Republican Chris Sununu, who is running for re-election as a self-proclaimed candidate
“pro-choice governor” for supporting a ban on abortion after 23 weeks of pregnancy.
In Connecticut, Democrats have called former Senator George Logan “extreme” in his run against Democratic U.S. Representative Jahana Hayes – although Logan received an “A” grade in 2017 and 2018 from the Connecticut chapter of NARAL, a abortion rights advocacy group. Democrats note that the memo was based on Logan’s votes on other issues important to NARAL, such as paid family medical leave, rather than abortion.
Also in Connecticut, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski came out with a TV ad highlighting how he and his Democratic opponent “are both pro-choice.” In an interview, Stefanowski said he was responding to Democrats’ repeated attacks on abortion, which he likened to lies.
“I don’t know how many times I can say I’m not going to change Connecticut law,” Stefanowski said in an interview. “I will support a woman’s right to choose.”
Abortion has become an increasingly partisan issue in recent decades, but public opinion has always been more nuanced.
READ MORE: UN experts warn of impact of abortion ban on US minorities
Generally, support for abortion rights is highest for women in the early stages of pregnancy and decreases as the pregnancy progresses, until it is lowest for very serious abortions. close to giving birth, said Jocelyn Kiley of the Pew Research Center. Yet exceptions for rape, incest and to protect the life of the mother are popular at all stages.
“Most Americans see this as a nuanced issue and not legal all the time or illegal all the time,” Kiley said. But, she noted, “it’s possible that Americans’ underlying views on this have shifted over the past couple of months.”
On June 24, in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court’s Republican-appointed majority overturned Roe and triggered abortion bans in at least 13 states, many of which do not provide exceptions for rape, incest and to protect the mother’s life.
The reason this is happening, said Republican pollster Whit Ayres, is “you now have state legislatures that have taken positions opposed by 9 out of 10 Americans.”
“What the Dobbs decision did with these trigger laws was focus attention on the early part of pregnancy, not the end of term,” Ayres said.
While many people support some restrictions on abortion, especially after the first trimester, the most extreme measures introduced in some Republican-run states are at odds with public opinion, an Associated Press-NORC Center poll finds. for Public Affairs Research in July.
There are several signs that the momentum is with pro-abortion rights supporters. In conservative Kansas, an election move to remove that state’s abortion rights lost more than 150,000 votes. Democrats won a special election in a tightly divided swing upstate New York neighborhood last week after their candidate focused on abortion. In a survey shortly after the Supreme Court ruling, Pew found that 62% of American adults say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, the highest share in nearly 30 years of followed by the question.
It has encouraged Democrats to sue any Republican on abortion, regardless of the details of their position, said Jennifer Lawless, a University of Virginia politics professor who has long followed reproductive health politics. .
“While the nuance on the issue has largely disappeared, the nuance of the case that Democrats can make is stronger,” Lawless said.
She noted that Democrats can now make the more technical argument that any elected Republican increases the power of the party that toppled Roe and could expand the abortion ban across the country.
It’s an argument Colorado Democrats have tried to make, unsuccessfully, before. In 2014, Democratic Senator Mark Udall lost his race to Republican Cory Gardner, an opponent of abortion rights who defused the issue by supporting over-the-counter female contraception to demonstrate he was not hostile to abortion rights. reproductive health.
Gardner supporters mocked Udall by calling him “Mark Uterus” for his tireless insistence on abortion and they assured voters that Roe was not in danger. Gardner lost his re-election bid in 2020 when Colorado voters replaced him with an abortion-rights-supporting Democrat after then-President Donald Trump chose the current Justice of the Court. Supreme Court Amy Coney Barrett, the deciding vote in Dobbs, during the final weeks of the campaign.
READ MORE: Some women cross state lines to get abortions before bans go into effect
Now the Democrats are trying again with O’Dea. In an interview, the first-time contestant said of his opponent’s attack: “It’s quite dishonest, quite dishonest.”
Yet in 2020, O’Dea voted for a statewide ballot measure to ban abortions after 22 weeks, which failed by 18 percentage points. The measure did not contain exceptions for rape, incest or to protect the life of the mother. He now says he thinks these exceptions are essential and added that he would support allowing the termination of non-viable pregnancies.
He noted that he was not running for office when the measure was on the ballot.
“I didn’t look at all the shades,” O’Dea said.
Colorado has long supported abortion rights. It was the first state to legalize rape, incest and mother protection proceedings, taking the step in 1967. Earlier this year, the Democratic-controlled Legislature passed one of the most radical laws protecting the right to abortion, guaranteeing no restrictions on abortions, regardless of when in pregnancy they occur. O’Dea opposes this law because of his belief that abortions should be banned beyond 20 weeks.
The race is being played out as Colorado became a haven for women seeking care after the Dobbs decision activated trigger laws in neighboring states, particularly Texas.
Karen Middleton, a former Democratic state legislator who leads the reproductive rights group Cobalt, recalled in an interview talking to a woman with an ectopic pregnancy traveling hundreds of miles from Texas to Colorado to get an abortion that started bleeding in a remote interstate area.
“We’re much less willing to compromise,” she said.
Haigh reported from Hartford, Connecticut.