When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade with its June 2022 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, former President Donald Trump reportedly said, in private, that he feared the decision could hurt Republicans in the 2022 midterms. Trump, however, didn’t say that publicly in June 2022, and many of the far-right MAGA candidates he backed campaigned loudly and aggressively against abortion rights.
But the things Trump reportedly said about Dobbs behind closed doors proved accurate. From Pennsylvania to Michigan to Arizona, a long list of Democrats who campaigned on abortion rights in statewide gubernatorial or U.S. Senate races won in 2022. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer defeated her far-right Republican anti-abortion challenger, Tudor Dixon, by 11 percent.
But in a scathing column published on January 11, Vanity Fair’s Bess Levin argues that anti-abortion Republicans have “learned nothing” from the disappointments their party suffered in the midterms.
“Ahead of the 2022 midterms,” Levin explains, “Republicans had predicted that a ‘red wave’ would help them take the Senate and hold a huge majority in the House. Obviously, that did not come to pass, and one major factor in the red wave becoming a light coral trickle — wherein Democrats retained the Senate and Republicans gained an extremely thin majority in the House — was abortion. Galvanized by the Supreme Court overturning 50 years of precedent in June and having no interest in putting people in power who wanted to further obliterate a pregnant person’s right to choose, voters came out in droves to make it clear that reproductive rights actually matter.”
The liberal Vanity Fair columnist continues, “Having had the last two months to reflect on the situation, has the GOP decided to listen? No! Of course not! Instead, the party that spent last week underscoring that it is every bit the s**t show people think it is has decided to use its first full week in power to vote on two anti-abortion measures.”
Levin goes on to discuss some anti-abortion proposals being made by Republicans at both the federal level and the state level. With Rep. Kevin McCarthy now in place as House speaker, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have proposed two anti-abortion bills. One of them is the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina (a conservative Republican) wasn’t shy about criticizing.
Mace complained, “We learned nothing from the midterms if this is how we're going to operate in the first week. Millions of women across the board were angry over overturning Roe v. Wade. What we’re doing this week is paying lip service to life. Nothing that we’re doing this week on protecting life is ever going to make it through the Senate.”
When the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its Dobbs decision, Justice Clarence Thomas argued that the Court should “reconsider” its ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut — a 1965 case in which the Warren Court struck down a Connecticut law prohibiting the use of contraception by married couples. Griswold has helped reduce the number of abortions by helping to prevent unplanned pregnancies, but Levin notes that there are “hundreds of Republicans who don’t even want to guarantee the right to birth control.”
The columnist also slams Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall for favoring criminal prosecution for women who use abortion pills.
“In yet further — and arguably even more disturbing — abortion news, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said Tuesday that women in his state could be prosecuted for using abortion pills to end pregnancies,” Levin explains. “Asked by AL.com how this squares with Alabama’s Human Life Protection Act, which criminalizes abortion providers but specifically exempts people receiving abortions from criminal charges, he responded: ‘The Human Life Protection Act targets abortion providers, exempting women ‘upon whom an abortion is performed or attempted to be performed’ from liability under the law. It does not provide an across-the-board exemption from all criminal laws, including the chemical-endangerment law — which the Alabama Supreme Court has affirmed and reaffirmed protects unborn children.’”
Levin continues, “As AL.com notes, the state’s chemical endangerment law, passed in 2006, was created to ‘protect small children from fumes and chemicals from home-based meth labs’ and was almost immediately used against women who took various types of drugs during pregnancy, including in cases in which the drugs they had taken were prescribed by doctors. As a result, people were being sent to prison after having miscarriages and stillbirths.”