A US judge’s move to ban a leading abortion pill has been met with near total silence from Republican leadership. Now, some conservatives warn the party is paying an electoral price for a push to curb the use of the drug.
As the Canary reported earlier this year, mifepristone is an abortion drug used in almost half of all US abortions:
Mifepristone, also known as RU-486, is one component of a two-drug regimen used for medical abortions. It’s been on the market in the United States for more than 20 years.
In reference to the mifepristone ruling, which is being appealed, Republican congresswoman Nancy Mace urged people to ignore a federal judge’s ruling on the abortion drug:
This is an FDA-approved drug. Whether you agree with its usage or not, that’s not your decision. That is the FDA’s decision on the efficacy, safety and usage of that particular drug
I agree with ignoring it at this point. This thing should just be thrown out, quite frankly.
It’s been nearly 10 months since the US Supreme Court first struck down the constitutional right to abortion, returning the decision to states. Since then, the Republican Party has suffered blow after high-profile blow at the hands of voters.
The latest examples come with last week’s landslide victory of a pro-abortion rights judge at the Wisconsin Supreme Court. This, along with the April 7 decision by a Texas judge to overturn the two-decade-old approval of mifepristone, has prompted a handful of conservatives to begin ringing the alarm. Earlier in August, the conservative state of Kansas defied expectations to vote decisively in favour of protecting abortion access.
For decades, Republicans have used the issue of abortion rights to electrify their conservative religious base. Even as poll after poll shows that the majority of Americans favour some kind of abortion access, Republican policy has been steadfast.
When the US Supreme Court decided to strike down abortion rights last June, the Republican leadership praised the ruling. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell called it “courageous and correct.” Then-House minority leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted that every “unborn child is precious, extraordinary and worth of protection.”
As the losses rack up, however, the warning lights are flashing. The ruling against mifepristone has been met with no such fanfare. Only Donald Trump’s deeply conservative former vice president Mike Pence, a darling of evangelical circles, came out of the woodwork, hailing it as a decision that he said “fixed a 20-year wrong.”
David Axelrod, a former advisor to Barack Obama, tweeted:
I bet a lot of Republican politicians quietly wish this issue of abortion rights would just go away.
It won’t. They are trapped in a quagmire (of) their own making.
‘MAGA Republican agenda’
Democrats, for their part, are wasting no time leaping into the breach. As the mifepristone ruling came from a Trump-appointed judge, Democrats are tying it to the Republicans. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer tweeted that the ruling is:
another massive step towards Republicans’ goal of a nationwide abortion ban
He added that his party was:
relentlessly working to protect a women’s right to choose from this extreme MAGA Republican agenda.
Meanwhile, the warnings from Republicans such as Mace are being largely drowned out by a slew of bills banning abortion altogether. In some state assemblies still controlled by Republicans, that includes cases of rape or incest. A conservative prosecutor in Iowa recently suspended reimbursement for morning-after pills for victims of sexual assault. In Mace’s own home state of South Carolina, a dozen Republicans are pushing laws that would criminalise abortion as “homicide.” Such laws would make people convicted of having an abortion eligible for the death penalty.
The intractability of the party’s base on the issue leaves Mace fearful for its future. She told The New York Times:
Because we keep going down these rabbit holes of extremism, we’re just going to keep losing.
I’m beside myself that I’m the only person who takes this stance.
Featured image by Gayatri Malhotra/Unsplash
Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse