Republican women break from their party on reproductive freedom—a potential wedge for Democrats

More than 150,000 registered Republicans in Florida have signed on to an effort to get a pro-abortion-rights measure on the state ballot in 2024, according to NBC News. Specifically, the measure would undercut the Republican-imposed six-week abortion ban signed into law earlier this year by barring the state from intervening in a pregnancy before “viability,” or roughly 24 weeks. The measure also carves out protections for the patient’s health.

Overall, the multi-organizational effort has submitted more than 1.3 million signatures, with nearly 690,000 validated of the 891,523 signatures needed. And Republican women are making key contributions to the broader effort to overturn the abortion ban enacted by the man many of them voted for, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.      

Carol Whitmore, who is active in Republican circles in Manatee County, said she has gathered nearly 100 petitions in support of the measure.

“I had to keep printing [petitions] I was getting so many people to support this,” Whitmore told NBC. “The government and federal and state have kind of lost touch with the people that make the decisions. We got them elected, and some aren’t listening to us. So I think this will be proof, just like the state of Ohio and other states that were very conservative, that this is going to pass.”

Though Sunshine State abortion-rights activists are on their way to getting the measure for a constitutional amendment certified, they would still face a stiff 60% threshold for passage according to state law.

Nonetheless, for Florida Democrats, putting reproductive freedom on the ballot would be a turnout booster that could yield better results for candidates up and down the ballot. Abortion-rights activists in eight other states also hope to put abortion protections on the ballot in 2024.

In Idaho, another conservative enclave across the country, Republican women are already organizing for the next reproductive-rights battle: contraception.  

Former state GOP Reps. Kelley Packer and Laurie Lickley, along with former Republican state Senate candidate Tara Malek, have joined forces to launch the Idaho Contraceptive Education Network, according to the Idaho Capital Sun.

Idaho lawmakers have outlawed nearly all abortions and imposed criminal penalties on anyone who performs the procedure. But those extreme anti-abortion restrictions are now creeping into the realm of contraception.

“We were seeing, in the last legislative session or two, a conflation between contraceptives and abortifacients,” Packer explained, using a term for abortion-inducing drugs, such as mifepristone. “That’s what we want to make sure gets disconnected.”

Idaho is proof positive that restricting reproductive rights is a slippery slope to losing even more freedoms. That’s a message Democrats must take to voters in swing states on the cusp next year.

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