‘Terrifying’: GOP Preparing 6-Week Federal Abortion Ban If They Win Back Congress

"A Democratic Senate chose to protect the filibuster instead of abortion rights," said one Democratic strategist. "The first thing a GOP Senate will do is toss the filibuster aside to effectively ban abortion nationwide."

By Julia Conley | 2 May 2022
Common Dreams

(Credit: YouTube / screengrab)

Three national reproductive rights groups on Monday announced plans to spend $150 million campaigning for pro-choice candidates in nine states ahead of the 2022 midterm elections—just as a newly-unveiled Republican anti-choice strategy made it clear how crucial it will be to elect abortion rights advocates in November.

As the Washington Post reported Monday, Republican senators have had extensive discussions about the possibility of proposing a nationwide ban on abortion at six weeks of pregnancy if they retake Congress, as well as new restrictions if Roe v. Wade is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The prospect of a nationwide six-week ban is “terrifying,” Kelley Robinson, executive director of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, told the Post.

“By them saying out loud that their goal is to push a nationwide abortion ban, it makes it clear that we have to elect more pro-reproductive health champions on the national level and in the states,” Robinson said.

Republicans have reportedly decided that Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) may introduce the legislation, while anti-choice group the Susan B. Anthony List has lobbied potential 2024 GOP presidential candidates to include a nationwide six-week abortion ban in their platforms.

The party is also focusing on how to proceed if the Supreme Court overturns Roe, which its right-wing majority has signaled it is willing to do even though six out of 10 Americans support the 1973 ruling which affirmed that people in the U.S. have the constitutional right to have an abortion.

At least 12 states have “trigger bans” in place, which would automatically ban abortion care in those states once Roe is overturned. Several others have proposals that could become enforceable without the protections of Roe in place.

If Republicans win the House and Senate, Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) told the Post Monday, the party will likely take advantage of their majorities and work to pass legislation which has already been introduced, such as a ban on minors traveling across state lines to get abortion care.

The GOP’s preparations to capitalize on a post-Roe reality contrasts sharply with the Democrats’ failure to stand united in defense of a woman’s right to abortion care. In March, right-wing Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia—who has opposed eliminating the filibuster in order to pass his own party’s agenda—joined the Republicans in blocking the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would codify abortion rights into federal law.

As Democratic strategist Max Burns said on social media Monday, “A Democratic Senate chose to protect the filibuster instead of abortion rights. The first thing a GOP Senate will do is toss the filibuster aside to effectively ban abortion nationwide.”

The news of the Republicans’ plans comes as progressives warn the Democrats Party have failed to deliver for the working people who voted them into office in 2020. The White House is tempering expectations regarding student loan debt cancellation and numerous anti-poverty and climate action provisions have failed to pass as part of the Build Back Better Act—also due largely to objections from Manchin.

One way for Democrats to energize voters, said Burns “would be to find their voice on a national messaging campaign to push back against the GOP’s plan to pass a federal ban on abortion after six-weeks—something a majority of Americans strongly oppose.”

Meanwhile, the $150 million campaign being launched by Planned Parenthood Action Fund (PPFA), NARAL Pro-Choice America, and EMILY’s List will include ads, field programs, research, and polling in states with competitive congressional and gubernatorial races this year.

“Let this be a warning to the out-of-touch politicians standing in the way of our reproductive freedom,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president of PPFA. “People are watching. People are furious. And this November, the people will vote you out.”

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