Thursday, May 25, 2023

We are Two Nations on Abortion

Hundreds of abortion ban veto supporters turned out to watch Gov. Roy Cooper sign a veto of the on Bicentennial Mall in Raleigh Saturday, May 19, 2023. Cooper affixed his veto stamp to the bill. The veto launches a major test for leaders of the GOP-controlled General Assembly to attempt to override Cooper’s veto after they recently gained veto-proof majorities in both chambers.Photo: Travis Long/The News & Observer via AP

In an in-depth analysis of the status of abortion legislation in the states, journalist Valerie Richardson in the Washington Times describes a “starkly divided” country between extreme positions banning most abortions in more than a dozen states and no or few gestational limits in a similar number.

My comment to Richardson:

“We are essentially two nations, particularly on cultural issues like abortion,” said Floyd Ciruli, director of the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research at the University of Denver.

A big reason lies with the rise of one-party rule. Thirty-nine states have “trifectas,” meaning the same party controls the governor’s office and both houses of the legislature. Of those, 22 are led by Republicans and 17 by Democrats.

Those 39 trifectas are “more than at any other point from 1992 to 2002,” according to Ballotpedia.

“When the Supreme Court lifted Roe v. Wade, they made it quite clear that [abortion] was now up to the politics of the states. And the politics of the states right now are polarized,” Mr. Ciruli said. “There are about 15-20% on each side who want absolutely no restrictions or absolutely no abortions unless it’s for the life of the mother. But those two groups have control of the political parties in these states.”

Polls show most Americans are on the middle ground on abortion restrictions with it legal the first trimester and accepting restrictions later. And most people were opposed to overturning Roe v. Wade. But there is no interest in political compromise.

Whatever polls say about abortion, expect both sides to remain locked in their positions at least through the November 2024 elections, Mr. Ciruli said.

“Abortion is not going to go away in terms of its politics because the Democrats do think it’s useful,” he said. “And Republicans, their problem is that they have a constituency that’s so committed to it and so observant and so engaged, I don’t see how they can possibly walk away from it.”


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