Nebraska’s legislature advanced a six-week abortion ban this month — but a Republican co-signer of the bill recently proposed an amendment to shift the ban to 12 weeks.
Republicans in conservative states have sought to balance pressure from their base to place more restrictions on abortion with broader support for the right to end a pregnancy.
Public support for legal abortion has climbed to 65 percent this year from 55 percent in 2010, according to recent polling from the Public Religion Research Institute. Majorities of residents in 43 states say that abortion should be legal in most cases. Around 63 percent of Republicans said abortion should be illegal in most or all cases, according to the PRRI poll.
Some Republican state leaders — particularly those with national ambitions — have sought to walk a delicate line on an issue that was once a party touchstone.
“This just puts the issue front and center again, and in most states and most places, it inarguably helped Democrats in 2022,” said Mike DuHaime, a former political director of the Republican National Committee. “What Republicans need to do is get to a place where they talk less about the extremes.”
Some Republicans are emphasizing an approach that focuses on providing resources and support for mothers and babies, as a way to mitigate the impact of bans.
On Wednesday, Gov. Tate Reeves of Mississippi, where most abortions are banned, signed a package of bills into law, increasing tax credits for the state’s crisis pregnancy centers, which encourage women to give birth, and expanding to the use of “safe havens,” a way for parents to surrender babies for adoption.
Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who is expected to make a White House bid, recently signed that state’s six-week ban into law, despite the political complications it presents. The law is likely to help him court conservative and evangelical voters in a presidential primary, but could hurt him in a general election.
The ban, one of the most restrictive in the country, stands to shut off abortion access for women in the Deep South who relied on Florida as a destination for the procedure.
Senator Lindsey Graham’s proposal for a 15-week national abortion ban last September failed to garner support from other Senate Republicans. And former President Donald J. Trump has blamed the abortion issue for the underperformance of Republicans in the 2022 midterm elections.