Republican candidates in competitive Senate races are recalibrating their abortion stances, moving away from hardline positions in order to avoid the political damage which might ensue from a hardline pro-life position.
This shift is most evident in key swing states, where candidates are defining specific circumstances for legal or illegal abortions, with some even opposing a federal ban. This change follows the Democrats’ successful use of the issue in the 2022 midterms, leading to better-than-expected performances in the House and Senate.
Republican leaders are urging a unified approach to abortion, anticipating Democratic attacks in the 2024 elections. In Ohio, a crucial battleground, Republican candidates Bernie Moreno, Frank LaRose, and Matt Dolan have expressed anti-abortion views but differ in their approaches. Moreno, for instance, has voiced support for a federal 15-week abortion ban, allowing states to impose stricter laws. LaRose has pledged to vote as a “pro-life American” on any Senate abortion measure, while Dolan insists on state-level decision-making and exceptions for rape and incest.
In Arizona, another competitive state, Kari Lake has softened her abortion stance compared to her gubernatorial campaign. She now opposes a federal abortion ban, acknowledging public support for legal abortions with restrictions. Michigan’s race, vital for Republican control of the Rust Belt, features candidates like Mike Rogers and Peter Meijer, who have shifted from supporting federal restrictions to advocating state-level decision-making. James Craig, another candidate, echoes this state-centric view despite his past support for a 1931 state law banning abortions.
Pennsylvania’s Republican candidate Dave McCormick has clarified his abortion stance amid Democratic attacks. Initially stating that exceptions should be “very rare,” McCormick’s campaign now accepts exceptions in cases of rape, incest, or to save the mother’s life.
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