What prohibition of abortion? GOP candidates abruptly abandon positions they long held in post-Roe fight

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Numerous Republican candidates who have long campaigned to restrict abortion access and perpetuate false theories about the 2020 presidential election now appear to be recalibrating their extreme views. This shift comes as the candidates move toward the general election in a changing political landscape that has been, at least in part, reshaped by the Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, and perhaps also because of the FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago.

The recent special election victory by Democrat Pat Ryan in an upstate New York swing district, where Ryan campaigned to protect abortion rights and the future of democracy, issues his Republican opponent tried to avoid, and the statewide vote in Kansas reject a constitutional amendment that would have allowed abortion to be banned, it would have caused Republicans to rush to adjust their positions on reproductive rights and sometimes other issues.

Last week, Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters, a Republican backed by Trump and tech billionaire Peter Thiel, released an ad criticizing the “extreme abortion policies” of incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Kelly. Masters said he supports a ban on “very late and partial birth abortion,” a position he says most Americans agree with. But that’s a dramatic change not only in tone but also in policy: Not too long ago, Masters was registered as favoring a federal personality law “recognizing that unborn babies are human beings who cannot be killed.” He previously called Roe v. Wade an’horrible decisionand referred to abortion as “genocide.”

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The Masters campaign website has also been modified. Previous language about being “100 percent pro-life” has been removed from the site, according to reporting by NBC News, and replaced with watered-down rhetoric in support of a federal ban on third-trimester abortion.

Michigan Republican congressional candidate Tom Barrett’s website has undergone similar changes. Barrett, who is running against incumbent Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin and former marked himself as “100% pro-life, no exceptions,” has erased that website position and retracted a statement about working “to protect life from conception.”

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These are not isolated examples, and it is reasonable to expect many more. Republican Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen, for example, previously said he would “try to ban abortion” as governor and opposite exceptions for rape or incest unless “the life of the mother is in danger”. but in a recent video reversed that opinion, saying it supports legal abortion for victims of rape or incest.

Barb Kirkmeyer, the Republican candidate in Colorado’s 8th congressional district, also recently changed her stance on abortion. When iVoterGuide asked about allowing abortions “under extenuating circumstances,” Kirkmeyer answered with a resounding no. But in a recent interviewshe answered the question differently, saying, “If something comes up at the federal level…then I’ll look at it and evaluate it at that time.”

Others, like Kansas Republican congressional candidate Amanda Adkins, have gone to great lengths to portray themselves as newly turned moderates on abortion rights. Adkins posted a opinion piece in the Kansas City Star saying that she did not “support a federal abortion ban” and believes that “it is not for Congress to impose a national abortion policy on Kansans.” However, she did not mention her past as chair of the Kansas Republican Party when the state organization officially supported “a Human Life Amendment to the United States Constitution” and “legislation to clarify that the protection of the Fourteenth Amendment applies to unborn children.”

In Nevada, where polls suggest right to abortion is one of the main factors driving voters to the polls, Republican Senate candidate Adam Laxalt, in a neck-to-neck race against Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, the Democratic incumbent, has also backtracked on his views acquaintances. Although Referrer to Roe v. Wade as a “joke” and saying it was “sad” that Nevada is not an anti-abortion state, Laxalt posted a opinion piece in the Reno Gazette Journal earlier this month, refusing to support a national abortion ban and saying the choice should be left to the voters.

Similarly, Zach Nunn, the Republican candidate in Iowa’s hotly contested 3rd congressional district, posted a opinion piece in the Des Moines Register retiring from his “Without exceptionsstance on abortion after Rep. Cindy Axne, the Democratic incumbent, released a campaign ad highlighting Nunn’s support for outlawing abortion.

Two Republican members of Congress in Southern California swing districts, Representatives Mike Garcia and Michelle Steel, abruptly backed out of an anti-abortion bill they co-sponsored last year. Both now say they support exceptions to abortion bans in cases of rape, incest or threats to the mother’s health, which is a departure from the bill’s actual language, according to the Los Angeles Times.

After decades of expressing support for extreme abortion bans without facing political consequences, even some far-right Republicans are quickly changing their tune. Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, who has been associated with Christian nationalism and supported Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election results, now seems reluctant to mention his longstanding anti-abortion views, saying that it will. leave it up to the voters to “decide what abortion looks like” in the state. Democrats will no doubt describe this race to the supposed middle ground on abortion rights as desperate and hypocritical; the verdict of the voters, in little more than two months, is what really matters.