As the US withdrew from Afghanistan and chaos ensued, Republican lawmakers were quick to criticize President Joe Biden’s handling of the withdrawal.
The violence in Kabul provided GOP officials with an opportunity to criticize the Democratic president, whose approach to the withdrawal was later met with disapproval in national polls. It quickly became political fodder for Republicans, who need only a net gain of five seats in the House and one in the Senate to retake control of Congress in next year’s midterm elections.
Conservatives were handed a victory weeks later when the Supreme Court sided with Texas Republicans in not blocking the most restrictive abortion law in the country – in one of the country’s most red states. However, unlike Afghanistan, it was met with a chilly reception from high-profile conservatives, with the majority of them refusing to publicly applaud the law, which experts say could cause problems for congressional Republicans when voters go to the polls next year.
Political strategists and academics pointed to a shifting narrative for people in the “middle” on abortion, and some speculated that the new law might be too far to the right for even some Republicans in the Republican base. Last week, a divided Supreme Court denied an effort by abortion rights groups to overturn a new Texas law that prohibits women from having abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.
The Texas law, known as SB 8, was signed into law by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in May and prohibits abortions when a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is usually around six weeks. The law does not include traditional abortion exceptions such as rape or incest, but it does allow women to have the procedure for “medical emergencies.”
The Republican base is predominantly religious and anti-abortion. According to Pew Research, roughly eight-in-ten Republican registered voters are Christians, and 63 percent of Republicans and those leaning toward the GOP believe abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.
According to Brian Conley, professor of political science and director of the political science graduate program at Suffolk University, the law may benefit the left by mobilizing single-issue pro-choice voters, particularly in light of the Texas ruling and possibly others to come. Although abortion remains one of the country’s most contentious issues, polls show that most Americans support certain restrictions but oppose repealing Roe v. Wade in its entirety.
A month before the 2020 presidential election, when asked whether the Supreme Court should “overturn” abortion or “let it stand,” 62 percent of likely voters in a Fox News poll said the high court should let it stand.
During that time period, a Quinnipiac University poll found that 66 percent of likely voters agreed with the 1973 decision establishing a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy. In addition, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll released in October 2020, 69 percent of Americans, including 76 percent of independents, oppose overturning Roe.
If allowed to stand, the Texas law would be the most significant restriction on abortion rights in the United States since Roe v. Wade. For years, federal courts have overturned similar bans in other conservative states, citing Roe v. Wade.
But it is a provision in the measure that deputizes individual citizens as the chief enforcer of the new anti-abortion rules that has riled women’s reproductive health advocates and providers – and may be difficult for Republicans to navigate in more moderate electorates – that makes the Texas law more controversial, and has riled women’s reproductive health advocates and providers – and may be difficult for Republicans to navigate in more moderate electorates.
Private citizens can sue abortion providers and anyone involved in “aiding and abetting” abortions, including someone driving a person to an abortion clinic, under that provision. According to the law, a successful plaintiff may be entitled to at least $10,000 in damages.
According to Gallup, 47 percent of those polled in May, months before the Supreme Court’s decision, said abortion will be one of the most important factors in voting for a candidate for a major office. Simultaneously, 24% say they will only vote for candidates who agree with their views on abortion. This figure is significantly higher than in previous years. Major Republicans and conservative organizations haven’t been proactive in voicing support for the bill since it went into effect, or have shunned whether they back the law.