Pro-Lifers Pushed Too Far and Doomed 2 Abortion Bans
In the wake of last year’s U.S. Supreme Court Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision overturning constitutional protections for reproductive rights, moves by conservative states to restrict abortion are running up against the limits of just how much change even many pro-life Americans want. Last week, both Nebraska and South Carolina legislators rejected bills that would have largely banned abortions. And polls find some degree of buyers’ remorse in states that restricted abortion after Dobbs, suggesting that lawmakers misread the room.
Anti-Abortion Bill Meet Unexpected Defeat
“A bill that would ban abortions in Nebraska after six weeks of pregnancy fell one vote short in the Legislature on Thursday,” Nebraska Public Media reported. The bill failed even after the introduction of a compromise amendment “which would change the legislation to ban abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy, instead of the six weeks the legislation called for.”
Almost simultaneously, “the latest push to outlaw nearly all abortions in South Carolina is over for the year, as senators who oppose a ban from conception stood their ground and scuttled the bill,” according to The Post and Courier of Charleston. “And Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey made clear there’s no appetite in the Senate to make another doomed attempt in 2024 for a bill with limited exceptions to an all-out ban.”
Both Nebraska and South Carolina are solidly red states. Republicans hold clear majorities in both South Carolina’s House and Senate and Nebraska’s unicameral legislature. According to a simplistic take on post-Dobbs politics, that’s supposed to indicate a clear path for near-absolute bans targeting abortion. But the bills failed at a time when residents of some states that implemented restrictions after the Supreme Court decision show signs that they think lawmakers went too far. As it turns out, even many Americans who were unhappy with the strong protections for reproductive rights embodied in the Roe v. Wade decision overturned by Dobbs weren’t necessarily looking for total prohibition.
Buyers’ Remorse on Abortion Bans
Unsurprisingly, as some more-conservative states changed their laws post-Dobbs the percentage of Americans who say abortions are difficult to obtain locally rose from 32 percent in 2019 to 42 percent in 2023, according to Pew Research. “The most striking change has occurred among people living in states where abortion is now prohibited: About seven-in-ten (71%) say it would be difficult to get an abortion, up from the half who said this in 2019.”
Interestingly, in states where abortion is now prohibited the share of people saying abortions should be easier to obtain rose from 31 perce
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