Late Wednesday night the House leadership gave up on a bill to restrict abortion past 20-weeks. While a blanket prohibition of any sort was always opposed by (most) Democrats, the polling on 20 weeks is pretty strong: most people support it and it's even popular among the millennial age-groups that the GOP wants to attract.
Whatever you may think of the bill personally, it's kind of a no-brainer. It's also just not statistically that meaningful: an abortion rights group estimates that it would stop about 1% of abortions (and many states already have a 20wk limit anyway).
Exactly what happened, we don't know but we do know that the revolt was led by Renee Ellmers (R-NC) and Jackie Walorski (R-IN). Apparently the issue was that the sole exception to the ban was provided for in the case of rape that had been reported to the police. It should be noted that even with that exact stipulation, the law polled with 60% approval (that is, the question noted the explicit requirement).
The majority of the blame is being heaped on Ellmers and Walorski--both of whom are apparently on video saying they'd be okay with it--with that specific stipulation. Of course there's still plenty of blame for the "spineless" GOP Establishment leadership which pulled the bill . . . and there's a powerful case to be made that whatever the optics were or weren't for the bill, the way this went down was a disaster.
Especially with the timing: There's a big right-to-life march in DC today. Needless to say, these people must feel completely back-stabbed after handing over both houses of Congress to the GOP in a landslide.
What Does It Mean?
Alex Rorarty makes an interesting case that while the bill might be generally popular, the 2016 race will likely feature Hillary vs. some old, white, GOP dude and the demographic of white college-educated women like Hillary a lot better than a generic GOP Republican. This is a critical demographic for the GOP since as a whole that group isn't especially taken with Obama--but could snap back into the 'D' column with Hillary.
If they lose college-educated white women by the currently polled margin it's Game Over.
On the other hand, the bill wasn't pulled by the "Establishment" for 11-dimensional strategic reasons. All indications are that Boehner was happy to send the bill up until a rogue caucus of women (primarily?) broke away and. erm, shut that whole thing down.
It turns out the body-politic can, in fact, do that.
That it was a 'revolt' led by women leads WaPo's Chris Cillizza to conclude that it was actually a win for the GOP since it's shown that women have a commanding voice in the organization. The Omnivore is, how do you say? Not convinced.
But it's an interesting argument.
While we're here, The Omnivore will note that this was all theatrics anyway: Obama, his approvals rising and newly invigorated after his successful State of the Union speech, would never have signed it anyway. It was always a 'statement' bill (and, well, an issue to try to hang around Hillary's neck in 2016).
On The Other Hand . . .
The Omnivore thinks that almost everyone is missing a key point that, presumably, won't be lost on a bunch of women voters (who may very well consider a 20 week old fetus to be a baby and therefore not abortable). What was it? Oh--it's right there a few paragraphs up . . .
It's the plain and clear assumption that women will rampantly 'cry rape' when they were not raped in order to game the system. This is why the GOP gets caught up in stuff like "forcible rape" and "women can't get pregnant" nonsense.
The logic is straightforward: if a woman gets pregnant through any kind of sex that she's responsible for (protected or not) it's her problem--not society's. On the other hand, if she gets pregnant through rape then the fault lies with her rapist so she might have some claim to controlling her body and rejecting carrying the baby (note: the most hard core pro-life proponents disagree with even this--and would treat doctors as contract killers).
So what you have to do is either acknowledge that there's an exception for rape, wish away pregnancy from rapes (which famously didn't work for Akin), or double down on deciding women can't control their bodies. Of these, the first option is obviously the best: especially if you make women go through the fairly horrific process of the rape-kit evidence collection (at a time when they've just been traumatized). Most don't.
Most women don't report their rapes anyway. So that exception is social conservative DYN-O-MITE.
Except it just has one problem: it's givvin' the game away.
Culture is in the process of seeing both increased attention paid to the issue of rape and the 2nd-law-of-social-motion equal and opposite black-lash where people (guys) are saying women are crying rape all over the place just to ruin men's lives.
It's most likely that the old dudes steering the GOP's ship-of-state are only marginally aware of this but you can bet the women are. The implicit embedded assumption that a woman seeking an abortion will lie about rape is an explicit statement that women--any woman--all women--#YesAllWomen--will lie about rape when it suits them.
To reiterate, the problem is not the policy position of the bill. The problem is that the discussion will be about rape. When the
"Well, uh, you know . . . women lie."
So, like, that's actually in the platform, guys? Srsly?
War On What???
The Omnivore has popcorn ready for immigration . . .