Republican strategists have identified a five-alarm fire in their house and are breaking out the garden hose to deal with it.
On top of the fact that Republicans are pushing abortion bans across the country, many anti-freedom conservatives have also set their sights on controlling birth control access as a new frontier. In fact, in 2022, House Speaker Mike Johnson was one of 195 Republicans who voted against Democrats’ Right to Contraception Act, which would have codified a right to contraception into federal law.
Enter three Republican strategists hoping to run interference on the anti-freedom anti-women authoritarian impulses pulsing through the Republican Party. Kellyanne Conway, the “alternative facts” mastermind of the Trump administration, is leading a trio of women hoping to help congressional Republicans escape the abortion trap that effectively crushed their midterm dreams last cycle.
Politico reports that Conway, lobbyist Susan Hirschmann, and Independent Women’s Voice CEO Heather Higgins are meeting with congressional Republicans to essentially present data proving that … wait for it … access to contraception is popular. Whoa.
Conway plans to tell Capitol Hill Republicans that they “will lose precious political currency and votes” if they do nothing or take steps to put contraception further out of reach — pointing to the poll’s finding that nearly half of conservative women “would consider voting for a candidate from a different political party” if Republicans back birth control restrictions.
Their whole pitch is not only that Republicans should support contraception rights, but that by focusing their rhetoric on it, they can avoid getting mired in debates about the wildly unpopular abortion bans they are advancing nationwide.
And get this: The strategists also believe that a pro-contraception focus can help win over disaffected Democrats to the Republican side.
“You’ve got a fair number of Democrats saying that they want an alternative to Biden and Harris, or they may sit it out,” Conway said in an interview. “He’s especially bleeding young voters, who you would think would be animated and interested to hear about [contraception], and who are in the prime of their years and choosing to conceive or not to conceive.”
Reality check: The vast majority of young voters hate Donald Trump and favor Democratic policies. No GOP contraception fig leaf is going to change that, even at the margins.
Reality check number two: Republicans are not going to take up the position of advocating for contraception access. They just aren’t. Maybe a few lone souls take it up individually, but the party’s anti-women anti-reproductive freedom bent is baked in on the basest of levels.
Reality check number three: Even if some small number of Republicans speak out in favor of contraception access, it’s not going to make so much as a dent in the pervasive view that Republicans have gone on a national tear to crush reproductive freedom and access to standard reproductive care, including everything from abortion access to contraception. Public opinion has sailed on that one.
That said, denialism is alive and well in Republican circles.
“Republicans are like your uncle, who really loves you and loves the women in his family, but he’s bad about showing it,” Higgins told Politico. “It’s just not in their natural vocabulary. And we’re trying to help them learn how to make this be more part of their vocabulary and tell them that they need to talk about these things that their constituents all support, and be more visible and vocal.”
It’s just a “vocabulary” problem! Yep. Also, if only Republicans talked more abortion, it would solve all their problems.
Meanwhile, back at the Supreme Court, the justices agreed Wednesday to hear a case in which Republicans seek to cut off access to abortion medication nationwide.
Let’s face it: The fact that GOP strategists have reached a point where they need to remind Republican officials and lawmakers that, yes, contraception is popular, really says it all about the state of the Republican Party.
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