Republicans unlikely allies in fight to restrict abortion at state level: Democrats


Texas Senator Eddie Lucio Jr. has voted for anti-abortion legislation more than a dozen times over the past decade. He is one of the state lawmakers who supported and voted for the controversial Heartbeat Act, which would criminalize abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected and exclude exceptions for victims of rape or incest. He also voted for the state’s so-called trigger ban, which is almost entirely in Roe v. Wade.

An abortion rights advocacy group in Texas announced in 2021 that he was “a vote of confidence in extremist rights in attacking abortion rights.”

He is also a lifelong Democrat.

A CNN analysis of legislative records and reported partisanship shows that Republicans have passed increasingly stricter abortion bans across the country, with many unlikely allies joining in: Democrats.

More than 140 Democrats from eight of the roughly a dozen states with the strictest abortion laws voted for the ban, and those state lawmakers are overwhelmingly male.

All but one law passed with a Republican vote alone, and others passed without a single vote from Democratic lawmakers. Republican lawmakers almost always voted for the limits, which experts say suggest the issue is more of a touchstone for Republican state lawmakers than it is for Democrats.

Abortion rights were guaranteed in the United States for nearly 50 years until a landmark Supreme Court decision in June. Since then, the procedure has been outlawed or severely restricted due to state trigger bans and other anti-abortion laws in effect from 2005 to the present. Most of these laws have been passed in the past five years, although two state trigger bans were passed more than a decade ago in the hope that Roe v. Wade will one day be overturned. In Mississippi, for example, a law passed in 2007 was voted in favor by more than 60 Democrats — some of whom have crossed over to the Republican Party. In this case, the law would not have passed without the support of Democrats.

These strict abortion bans run counter to public opinion, with more than 60 percent of Americans saying in a July CNN poll that they disapprove of the Supreme Court’s recent decision. In August, voters in Kansas rejected a ballot measure that would limit abortion rights in the state, while in upstate New York a Democrat won a special election in a swing district of the House — a sign of the impetus for abortion rights as an issue. force.

Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. of Texas, a Democrat, has spoken in support of a controversial anti-abortion bill in 2021.He told CNN that most of his voters are

Lucio told CNN that being an anti-abortion Democrat “feels lonely” at times, but that most of his voters are “Christians who grew up teaching them what’s right and what’s right.” wrong basic values.”

He said he doesn’t think abortion is only a women’s problem because both men and women are involved in conception and men “have shown that they have a natural instinct to protect humans”.

“A lot of times, I believe that if a man shows a moral responsibility, a woman will choose not to have an abortion,” he said.

More than 140 Democrats from eight of the roughly a dozen states with the strictest abortion laws voted for the ban.

The National Democratic Party’s position on abortion is clear. “Like most Americans, Democrats believe that every woman should have access to high-quality reproductive health care, including safe and legal abortion,” its party platform said. “We oppose and will work to overturn federal and state laws that create barriers to women’s reproductive health and rights…”

But that wasn’t always the case for individual Democratic state lawmakers.

In Arkansas, four of the state’s 29 Democrats voted in 2019 to trigger the ban, which criminalizes abortion in nearly all cases. They are all men. That same year, 14 male and five female Democrats in Kentucky voted for a similar state ban, representing nearly 40 percent of all Democrats in the state legislature at the time. In Mississippi, nine male Democratic lawmakers voted for a 15-week abortion ban in 2018, culminating in Roe v. Wade. The laws have nearly unanimous support from Republicans, save for a one-vote veto in Arkansas.

Meanwhile, a 2022 bill strengthening Louisiana’s trigger ban was passed with the help of 10 male and two female Democratic lawmakers and signed into law by the Democratic governor. John Bell Edwards. “I am pro-life and have never withheld this fact,” Edwards said in a statement in June, noting that he signed the bill despite his opposition to rape and incest victims without exceptions. A spokesman for Edwards told CNN that the governor intends to work with lawmakers to pass exceptions for victims of rape and incest, noting that the bill he signed “is designed to clarify” the A ban passed in 2006.

Rocky Adkins, a former Kentucky Democratic representative and gubernatorial candidate, said in a 2019 radio interview that in addition to his personal beliefs, his vote represented his constituents in a “very conservative district”. “the opinion of. Bruce Maloch, who no longer serves in the state legislature, was one of the Arkansas Democrats who voted for the state’s trigger ban. In a 2020 op-ed in a local newspaper, he was described as a “deer-hunting, anti-abortion local Baptist deacon” lamenting Republican ads attacking him. Maloch and Adkins did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.

Also in Kentucky, a former state Rep. Joe Graviss told a local newspaper in 2020 that he unsuccessfully tried to emphasize his “anti-abortion” beliefs during his campaign for the state Senate. Graves declined to discuss his anti-abortion vote with CNN, saying the issue was “very personal” to him, but also said he was unimpressed by the fact that local Democrats were being portrayed as being with countries like House Speaker Nancy Democrats were equally frustrated with Pelosi, which wasn’t always the case. “People put up big signs in fields on Main Park Avenue saying if you vote Democrat, you’re going to hell,” he said. “You have pastors tell their congregations who to vote for and then put the list on the front door of their church. , if they don’t vote that way, there will be a terrible repercussions.”

Former Kentucky Representative Joe Graves said he was frustrated with how local Democrats were being portrayed as national Democrats.

Overall, in state legislatures, men represent more than 80 percent of the Democratic vote in support of the ban.

CNN’s analysis of state Democrats echoes the role of gender in Congress. Two Georgetown University researchers published an analysis of abortion-related votes in the House of Representatives from 1993 to 2018 last year and found that Democratic men were more likely than their female counterparts to vote for a bill restricting abortion, which the researchers attributed to women’s democracy Party members are usually elected in more liberal areas.

Currently, the only two Democrats in Congress who have spoken out against abortion are: Senators. Joe Manchin and Rep. of West Virginia. Texas’ Henry Cuellar made this point in a recent op-ed on the “end of the pro-life Democrats” at the federal level. Meanwhile, researchers at Georgetown University noted that Republican women in the House have historically been more likely than Republican men to oppose anti-abortion legislation, but in recent years, as more moderate candidates have been replaced by “strongly anti-abortion women” , the gender gap has disappeared. from the South and Midwest. ”

At the same time, experts say treating abortion as a women’s issue could prevent men from taking on the cause of abortion rights, both as advocates and as lawmakers — saying anti-abortion activists have strategically exploited men in politics and business. “Let’s be honest: There are many men whose lives, careers and families benefit from abortion,” the U.S. Rep. New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, tweet After Luo’s reversal. “Guys, we need you right now. You can go through rooms that other people can’t. Your power matters.” Some abortion rights advocates also point out that the gender-based framework of issues excludes trans and non-bisexuals who may be affected Elemental population.

“Politicians often have easily identifiable political reasons for their positions on abortion,” said Ziad Munson, a sociology professor at Lehigh University who specializes in the politics of abortion, saying some Democrats may be more voted for anti-abortion legislation to maintain their position. In a conservative area than because it is a deeply ingrained personal belief.

Munson noted that the finding that Democratic state lawmakers are more likely to cross party lines shows how abortion is a central issue for the Republican Party, while Democrats allow “more diversity of opinion over a longer period of time.” That’s especially true in the South, where Democrats have historically been conservative, he said.

That may be changing, however, as lawmakers adjust to the changing political landscape. As Republicans push for tougher bans in Roe v. Roe, it will be interesting to see how Democrats vote, Munson said. Wade World.

The landmark 50-year-old Roe v. Wade case.

In Congress, Pennsylvania Senator. Bob Casey, a once self-described “pro-life” Democrat, recently voted with his party to codify a bill to codify federal abortion rights — although it didn’t get enough votes to keep going. In a statement, Casey said he was motivated by reports that Republicans would try to pass a six-week federal abortion ban, an extreme limit he said he never supported during his time in public office. Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, said in a statement in June that he was “deeply disappointed” by the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe and that he supported exceptions for rape and incest, but he still voted against it. Bill, and said on CNN that he thinks the Congressional proposal goes beyond codifying Roe and would expand abortion rights, which he cannot support.

Former Tennessee Rep. Meanwhile, John DeBerry, who has been a Democrat for more than 20 years, was dropped from the primary ballot by state Democrats in 2020. The move comes after DeBerry, who later ran as an independent, was the target of attack ads from Democrats. Planned Parenthood’s political arm, the party representative reportedly said at the time that his vote on bills such as anti-abortion and school vouchers did not align with the party’s values.

Planned Parenthood, Tennessee's political arm, ran an attack ad against Democrat John DeBerry after voting for strict anti-abortion legislation.

“Life has been important to my entire career,” he told Christianity Today in 2020. “My principles haven’t changed and I haven’t changed my principles because I have a D after my name.”

Back in Texas, a longtime Democratic congressman. Ryan Guillen announced in November 2021 that he would officially switch from Democrat to Republican. Like Lucio in the Senate, Gillen voted in favor of the state’s trigger ban and the controversial six-week ban enforced through a civil lawsuit. “Rep. Gillen has been a friend for many years,” the state’s Republican chairman said in a statement. “I am proud to welcome him to the Republican Party.” Gillen did not respond to a request for comment.

A few days ago, Lucio announced that he would not seek re-election after serving in the state legislature for more than 30 years. He told CNN that he was proud of his time in office “beyond partisan politics” and declared that he was never the far-right’s trusted vote, as critics say, but “God’s trusted vote.”

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