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Feehery: Post-Dobbs, Republicans need to get their act together on abortion

As a pro-lifer, I am delighted that the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. That said, I think Republicans need to get their act together on abortion.  

Letting chaos reign – allowing the most extreme elements within the party to define the party’s position on abortion – is not good politically for the GOP and not good legally or morally for the nation.  

Republicans should state unequivocally that they do not support banning contraception. This is not a politically sustainable position.  

Republicans should also state unequivocally that Roe v. Wade (which legalized abortion nationally) is not Loving v. Virginia (which legalized interracial marriage) and it is not Obergefell v. Hodges (which legalized same-sex marriage). Democrats are trying to conflate all these decisions because they know Roe was bad law and by far the least politically sustainable position of the three.  

Republicans should state clearly and unequivocally that the drugs sometimes used for abortion but usually used for other purposes, such as medication to fight lupus and other diseases, will not be banned and can be used for whatever reason they are legally prescribed for. Democrats are trying to paint the worst-case scenarios to put Republicans on the defensive, and this is one of the prime examples. 

Republicans should be very careful on the rape and incest issue. Some policymakers believe that a child is a child no matter how they are made, and thus should be protected under all circumstances. I find that position compelling. But not all Republicans — I daresay it’s a small minority — share that position. Abortions following rape and incest are statistically very rare (about 1 percent of all abortions). But as we saw in Ohio when a pregnant 10-year-old travelled to another state for an abortion, they do happen, and wishing these hard cases away won’t make them go away.  

If the mother’s life is at stake, it should be preserved. Pro-life means protecting the life of the mother too. I know it can sometimes get very complicated, but on issues such as this one, we need more compassion and understanding and less dogma.  

Banning the morning-after pill won’t work either, and it will lead to a dangerous black market that could imperil the lives of young women and be a boon to criminal drug peddlers across the country.  

Chasing down women who travel across state lines to get an abortion is not politically or morally sustainable. 

The most politically defensible position is to find a timeframe, probably 15 to 20 weeks, after which most Americans believe abortion should be illegal. If this position is good enough for Western Europe, it should be good enough for the United States of America — and most polls find that it is.  

Making sure companies that pay for their employees’ abortions don’t get tax breaks is a winning issue for Republicans. Making sure that companies don’t pressure their employees to get abortions so they keep working is another good issue. 

It’s not just Republicans who are flailing on the issue of abortion. Democrats seem downright blood-thirsty in their approach. They not only want taxpayers to fund abortion, but they are more than willing to allow abortion up to the moment of birth.  

Democrats like to frame their quest for abortion-on-demand as reproductive rights, or reproductive justice, a horrific twisting of the language that hides their true goal, which is to terminate the life of an innocent unborn child.  

Politically, Republicans have probably already lost the white college-educated female cohort of voters who hated former President Trump and are most intense in their desire for abortion rights. But this issue presents peril for both political parties — if they let their most extreme elements define their positions.  

Republicans would be wise to come up with the most politically defendable position on abortion and define the Democrats as the real extremists on the issue. 

Feehery is a partner at EFB Advocacy and blogs at He served as spokesman to former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), as communications director to former House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and as a speechwriter to former House Minority Leader Bob Michel (R-Ill.).  

Tags abortion rights Contraception Employers Roe v. Wade SCOTUS State legislation travel

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