As the prospect of a reversal of Roe v. Wade looms, Senate Republicans tried Wednesday to stay on message on the economy, blaming President Joe Biden for rising gas prices.
A leaked draft of a majority opinion that would overturn Roe in a case concerning a Mississippi law banning elective abortions after 15 weeks rocked the political world this week, and both sides of the contentious issue are bracing for a reversal, which would send the matter back to individual states to legislate. The 1973 ruling in Roe legalized abortion nationwide, but the new case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, directly challenged the landmark case.
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Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed the authenticity of the draft but said the document does not constitute the final opinion of the court.
Democrats have moved to use the prospect of a reversal of Roe to shift the discussion ahead of the midterm elections to reproductive rights. Analysts predict the midterm elections will favor Republicans due to low approval ratings for Biden and voter concerns about rising consumer costs, particularly gas prices.
Asked about keeping voters engaged on the economy between now and November in the face of a heated debate on abortion, Sen. Pat Toomey, a retiring Pennsylvania Republican, said he does not have any constituents who are not concerned about rising costs.
“From the minute you get in your car and begin on your way to work or school or wherever you’re going, you are reminded continuously with gas prices and everything you do manifests the huge problem with inflation,” Toomey said, adding, “That’s not a political challenge for us.”
The National Republican Senatorial Committee circulated a memo Tuesday, reported by Axios, outlining suggested talking points about the prospect of a change in federal abortion policy, advising candidates to “be the compassionate, consensus-builder” on abortion and to "expose the Democrats for the extreme views they hold."
Doing away with Roe has been a longtime goal of many conservative activists, but Senate Republicans have avoided treating the prospect as a political victory with the final outcome still uncertain. Many have condemned the leak itself, which Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell characterized as an “attack” on the court.
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While condemning the possibility of the end of Roe, congressional Democrats currently face steep odds to enact any legislation in response. The Senate next week will consider legislation proponents say would codify the standards established by Roe, but Democrats do not appear to have the votes necessary to pass the measure, as they cannot either meet or do away with the 60-vote filibuster threshold.