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Anti-abortion activists wrestle with GOP wavering on Dobbs: ‘A lot at stake’

She was not supposed to come out of her mother’s womb alive.

In the late 1970s, nearly four years after Roe v. Wade, Melissa Oden was a 31-week fetus in her 19-year-old mother’s womb when she was immersed in toxic saltwater for several days as part of a saline injection abortion procedure.

After being expelled from his mother’s body, Oden was presumed dead and dumped with medical waste, before being found crying and moving, and eventually adopted.

“There are babies like me who survived Roe v. Wade, and there are babies who are surviving abortions today,” Oden, CEO of the Abortion Survivors Network, told The Washington Post.

Now, anti-abortion activists like Auden are celebrating the two-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe in June 2022.

But with a presidential election looming and the possibility of several justices being nominated to the nation’s highest court, concerns linger that the feat may not last.

“If we don’t win this election, this may be the last time we celebrate Dobbs’ anniversary, so there’s a lot at stake,” said Kelsey Pritchard, state communications director for the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List.

Anti-abortion activists have been marking the anniversary of the downfall of Roe v. Wade cautiously. Reuters

Republicans shaken by abortion issue

Three years after Roe, the Republican Party included an anti-abortion stance in its platform, and the Republican and Democratic parties rapidly split into their current divisions.

Still, for decades, their fierce opposition to abortion was largely symbolic: Because Roe gave women a federal right to an abortion, Republicans had few tools to ban it, which gave them some protection from political repercussions.

But now, with Roe giving states the power to decide a woman’s right to choose, those political dangers have come to the fore.

Numerous polls suggest that majorities of voters want to keep the process largely legal, and there have been several ballot initiatives, even in Republican states, that back that up.

Some prominent Republicans have begun to distance themselves from the Albatross issue.

“Their job is to get re-elected,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of the National Student Life Alliance. “That’s what politicians do.”

Other Republican candidates, including Maryland Senate candidate Larry Hogan and Nevada Senate candidate Sam Brown, have downplayed the issue.

Meanwhile, and perhaps most significantly, in April, former president and current presidential candidate Donald Trump characterized abortion as a state issue and avoided supporting a federal ban.

Donald Trump has vowed to largely defer to state discretion when it comes to abortion policy. Reuters

Meanwhile, Oden said, “As someone who has had an abortion, I want to say this is not a matter of winning or losing, it’s a matter of life and death.”

A leading theory among political analysts and strategists is that the backlash against Dobbs has undermined what was expected to be a strong wave of Republican support in the 2022 midterm elections.

“In 2022, a lot of Republicans have adopted the ostrich strategy and not talked about abortion at all. They’ve run away from the issue and let Democrats define them,” Pritchard said.

“Backing away from abortion is not a winning approach,” said Lila Rose, founder of the anti-abortion group Live Action.

“Being pro-life means advocating for the protection of all unborn children without compromise.”

Concerns about Republican policies

There are now rumours that the party is looking to soften its official stance on abortion.

“I have concerns about the Republican platform process,” Rose said.

But “it is imperative that we remain vigilant and proactive to ensure that our platform reflects our highest pro-life principles,” she said.

“I expect the Republican platform will continue to explicitly call for national protections for the unborn, rooted in the 14th Amendment,” Pritchard said.

The Washington Post has reached out to the Republican National Committee for comment.

Abortion has long been one of the most contentious social issues in the United States. Reuters

Are abortions on the rise?

Many critics and supporters of Roe predicted that striking down the landmark 1973 decision would dramatically reduce the number of abortions performed in the United States.

Two years after the Dobbs case, the opposite seems to be happening at the national level. Guttmacher Institute It is estimated that more than one million abortions will be performed in 2023, the highest number in the past decade.

This builds on a small trend that began in 2019. Prior to that, the procedure had been on the decline since the 1990s.

“It is true that we are experiencing a tragic increase in abortions across the country, primarily due to the widespread availability of the abortion pill,” Rose said. “These horrific figures should inspire and inspire us to work to end abortion across the country and make the murder of innocent children unthinkable.”

Rose Emphasis on research The report concluded that abortion restrictions led to an increase of 32,000 births in the first half of 2023. It also highlighted that states that enacted restrictions saw a steep decline in abortions.

Abortion data is unclear because there is no formal reporting system in all 50 states, and some abortion opponents question how much trust the Guttmacher Institute’s numbers even should be given.

“My first reaction is prove it. The abortion industry and Planned Parenthood are the reasons we don’t have a national abortion reporting requirement,” Hawkins said. “So this is just speculation.”

Democrats have warned that further abortion restrictions would be on the agenda if Republicans win in 2024. Getty Images, DNC

Chemical Abortion

In stark contrast to the pre-Roe era, the abortion landscape is now dominated by the widespread availability of chemical abortions.

“Abortion is [many] “There’s a lot of illegal trade in chemical abortion pills in the state. The bigger problem is the illegal trade in chemical abortion pills,” Hawkins said.

Approximately 63% of abortions performed in the United States in 2023 were induced by chemical means. According to the Guttmacher InstituteThis is different from other notorious abortion procedures such as: Expansion and EjectionThe fetus is eventually chopped up and removed piece by piece from the uterus.

Pills such as mifepristone, which are commonly used as part of a two-drug combination to induce abortion, can now be mailed to homes and smuggled into states with strict anti-abortion laws.

Anti-abortion activists suffered a setback earlier this month in their Supreme Court lawsuit seeking to restrict access to mifepristone, when the court dismissed the case on stand-in grounds rather than on the merits.

Battle of the States

Since Roe was struck down, states have begun to craft their own abortion policies.

Currently, 21 states have enacted significant restrictions on abortion, ranging from near-total bans with exceptions such as those that endanger the mother’s life, to bans after 15-18 weeks of pregnancy. According to a New York Times report.

Three more states face court hurdles in enacting a range of abortion restrictions. Abortion remains largely legal in the rest of the states.

“This will protect an estimated 200,902 people. Number of fetuses per year “Through pro-life legislation, we are pleased to see that number is even higher than it was a year ago,” Pritchard said.

By comparison, the number of births in the United States in 2023 is expected to be just over 3.6 million. According to the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionAccording to the Guttmacher Institute, abortions are expected to total just over one million in 2023.

Previous data has shown that abortions have increased nationwide since the Dobbs decision. Getty Images

In this election cycle, Numerous abortion initiatives Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Missouri, Nevada, New York, South Dakota, etc.

“These ballot referendums essentially allow for unlimited spending,” Hawkins said, “so we’re very concerned that we’ll lose out on spending like other states have. [and] “Regarding the confusion surrounding the referendum”

Anti-abortion activists are feeling optimistic about the chances of success after past ballot measures suffered major defeats in states such as Ohio, Kentucky and Kansas.

“It’s really important that Republican leaders step up to the plate on this issue and act early so that people know what they’re actually voting for,” Pritchard said.

Abortion opponents want not just state restrictions but also federal intervention, which has divided Republican leaders.

“All lawmakers who understand what abortion is should absolutely pursue national restrictions on abortion. Protecting life is a moral imperative that goes beyond political strategy,” Rose said.

Pritchard said activists want to go beyond abortion restrictions to create a “pro-life safety net.”

“We also applaud all the ways states have made progress toward building a pro-life safety net, including funding pregnancy centers, allocating funds for child care assistance and extending Medicaid to new mothers,” she said.

Polls show abortion remains a top issue for voters ahead of the Nov. 5 election. Getty Images

Surviving aborted fetuses

Auden started the Abortion Survivors Network to connect people like her, which she estimates has attracted around 800 people so far.

“I found out about my experience when I was 14 and it was absolutely shocking,” she said. “We have no idea how often this happens.”

Due to a lack of data in the United States, it is unclear what the survival rate is. Her organization is A Canadian study found that the seven-year survival rate was about 0.21 percent, which translates to about 2,000 baby deaths per year in the United States.

For Auden, surviving an abortion gives her a unique perspective on this difficult political issue: While much of the discussion revolves around women’s experiences and rights, she brings the rare perspective of someone who nearly survived an abortion.

“If I hadn’t been born, I wouldn’t have had any rights,” she recalled.

At the heart of this debate is the question of whether a fetus is truly a person. Auden noted that when a fetus is desired, questions about the personhood of the fetus are rarely asked.

“The reality of the humanity of every unborn child is not determined by how someone feels about that child,” she said.

First Lady Jill Biden campaigned against Dobbs’ sentence on behalf of her husband, President Biden. Getty Images

Abortion rights activists rally together

While the abortion battle rages, abortion rights activists are marking the anniversary of the Dobbs case with deep regret and a renewed desire to restore what was taken away by the Supreme Court decision.

“Make no mistake: If Republicans win majorities in Congress and Donald Trump is confirmed as president, nationwide abortion bans will be the next big thing,” Mini Timmaraj, president and CEO of Reproductive Freedom for All, warned at a press conference on Friday.

Vice President Kamala Harris and First Lady Jill Biden marked the anniversary of the Dobbs decision by holding campaign events in battleground states, seeking to rally support for restoring the right to abortion access nationwide once established by Roe.

Congressional Democrats have tried to restore Roe’s protections through legislation, but they lack control of both chambers of Congress, and the Senate requires 60 votes to break a filibuster.