Strict abortion bans failed to pass in votes just hours apart in two conservative states this week, in the latest sign of the anxiety among Republicans that supporting strict limits or outright bans on abortion could risk a political backlash.
Anti-abortion advocates continue to press lawmakers to take a hardline position on the issue, but after the end of Roe v. Wade, there’s a growing divide between public opinion and longtime GOP goals on abortion.
The political concerns over abortion have been in stark display on the national stage among Republican presidential hopefuls, but the defeat of a “heartbeat” bill in Nebraska and a near-total ban on abortion in South Carolina on Thursday showed the same dynamics are playing out in state legislatures.
McLeod said the women of the legislature needed to send a message to all the women and girls of the state.
The legislation “clearly places the rights of a fetus over the rights of women and girls who will be forced by our male-dominated legislature to carry that fetus to term,” she said.
In Nebraska, a six week ban failed by one vote.
Sen. Merv Riepe, an 80 year-old longtime Republican, abstained from the vote to end debate on the legislation, effectively killing it for the rest of the legislative session.
Riepe previously supported the bill, but later filed an amendment that would ban abortions after 12 weeks because he said he wanted to give women more time to realize they are pregnant and make a safe decision.
After the vote, Riepe was personally called out by Gov. Jim Pillen (R) as well as anti-abortion advocates.
“I call on Senator Merv Riepe to make a motion to reconsider and stand by the commitments to Life he has made in the past,” Pillen said in a statement.
Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, one the largest national anti-abortion groups, called Riepe’s abstention a “betrayal.” And local anti-abortion group Nebraskans Embracing Life called for him to resign.
Republicans are reaping wins after years of pushing to restrict abortions. After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last June, GOP-led states raced to outlaw abortion.