WASHINGTON—On a debate stage in Pennsylvania last week, the Senate Republican primary candidate Kathy Barnette got personal. “I am the by-product of a rape. My mother was eleven when I was conceived, my father was 21. I wasn’t just a bunch of cells. As you can see, I’m still not just a bunch of cells. My life has value.
It dealt with the recent leak of the Supreme Court’s proposed majority opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade — and immediately turned it into a political attack on Trump-endorsed candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz, who recently converted to professing “anti-abortion.”
Oz fought back. “I operated on small children, a few days old, and saw the majesty of their hearts beating blood,” he said. “I would never have thought of harming this child, not even nine months earlier. Because life begins at conception.
David McCormick, the other candidate in the running, who seems locked in a tie with his rivals in the polls, also took a hard line on bans on abortion, even in cases of rape or incest, except “the very rare cases where there should be”. be exceptions for the life of the mother.
The nomination race for the open Senate seat in Pennsylvania – the vote takes place on Tuesday – has always been strange, with Trump’s endorsement of Oprah’s former TV doctor (dismissed as a charlatan by the New England Medical Journal among others) and the presence in the race of the joker Barnette, who has a habit of publishing offensive comments against LGBTQ people (including in the Canada Free Press) and Muslims, and trumpeting theories of far-right conspiracy.
But since the leak of the Supreme Court opinion, the Republican primaries have focused on abortion above all else, with each candidate trying to prove they will take a harder line than the others against its legality.
This race leading up to November’s midterm elections was always going to be important and influential. It’s a true swing state (which backed Trump in 2016 and Biden in 2020, each time by tiny margins) that reflects the country’s polarization in its urban-rural divide – James Carville said: “Pennsylvania is Pittsburgh to the west, Philadelphia to the east, with Alabama in between. Because the Senate seat is open (the Republican incumbent is retiring), the race is a little tough. It could be one of the few races that decides which party controls the Senate.
But now it’s also becoming a glimpse of how the impending Supreme Court ruling on abortion is shaking up the election.
Democrats in Washington and across the country have suggested that the sudden loss of reproductive freedom will drive generations of women who don’t typically vote to the polls. The Senate vote on a doomed bill to enshrine Roe v. Wade in the law last week was held with the explicit purpose of “getting everyone up to speed” — that is, providing a voting record that Democrats could use as a campaign wedge against Republicans.
But as you can see, more Republican MAGA candidates than you in Pennsylvania are leaning into the decision, at least in primary voters, promising that they will be the ones to close the clinics.
It’s not just in Pennsylvania. In Georgia, which holds its primary on May 24, the state’s Republican candidates have vowed to call back the legislature to implement even stricter abortion bans than the law already in place that would ban all abortions after about six weeks. , and the six Republicans vying for the Senate nomination vow to support bans even on rape and incest. Republican Senate candidates from North Carolina, Ohio, New Hampshire and Florida are also promising near-total bans, according to a recent roundup by Axios.
Which may be a popular decision in their party – long the home of anti-abortion voters – in primaries, when only votes from declared supporters count. But it’s a big gamble in the general election when they’ll have to attract swing voters and rely on those voters going to the polls when no presidential candidate is on the ballot.
Especially considering that in a place like Pennsylvania, the largest bloc of swing voters credited with delivering the last presidential election to Joe Biden are middle-class women who live in the suburbs. And that both major cities in the state are home to large populations of young people who most likely support reproductive choice.
Certainly, the pro-choice movement counts on the right to abortion to motivate these voters. “There are few things as monumental as a federal ban on the right to control one’s own body that will bring women to the polls,” Sonia Ossorio, president of the National Organization for Women of New York, told New York recently. Post. “It will be a huge moment of galvanizing.”
Still, many analysts aren’t so sure – believing people might lose interest in the issue in the months to the election. Once out of the headlines, some think it will fade from voters’ minds and they will start worrying about inflation again.
However, it’s hard to see that happening if both sides put the issue at the top of the agenda.
If the Supreme Court issues a decision similar to the leaked draft – and there’s always a chance it won’t – it’s sure to have far-reaching effects on the lives of American women and on the laws of the land. And even before it’s officially released, as you can see from watching the scene in Pennsylvania, it’s already reshaping the politics of the election. It is not yet known what form they will take.
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