Abortion barely evoked a whisper during last year’s midterm elections, but it has certainly caused a kerfluffle this week inside the House Republican caucus.
And now comes data from the Pew Research Center, which says public opinion on abortion has remained fairly stable for the past 20 years.
“More than six-in-ten (63 percent) U.S. adults surveyed in 2013 said they would not like to see the Supreme Court completely overturn Roe v. Wade, while about three-in-ten (29 percent) want to see the ruling overturned,” Pew polling found. “When asked, 51 percent of U.S. adults say it should be legal in all or most cases, compared to 43 percent who say it should be illegal all or most of the time.”
Even so, states have been actively trying to restrict the law, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights. Pew reports that the health think tank found that 231 new curbs on abortion have been in put in place since 2010 midterm elections.
Which brings us to the Capitol Hill this week, where a handful of Republican lawmakers, led by Rep. Renee Ellmers of North Carolina, blocked passage of a bill that was expected to glide through the chamber to ban abortion after 20 weeks or more pregnancy.
The fact that the rebellion happened on the eve of a Thursday march by abortion opponents commemorating the 42nd anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion was something of an embarrassment to the party.
On the other hand, given that the recent insurgencies inside the GOP have come from its hard right wing –unlike this one – and given the party’s effort to re-brand itself as welcoming to more diverse viewpoints, the abortion flap could also be political boon.