In public, at least, many Republicans are responding to the Supreme Court’s gutting of abortion rights by saying the issue should be left up to individual states, and then quickly pivoting to other matters like gas prices and the economy.
But in private, they are cheering on the death of Roe v. Wade, and plotting to go even further to restrict abortion rights in states where it has already been codified into law.
Take Adam Laxalt, the former Nevada attorney general who is running against Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), for example. He called the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe a “historic victory,” but said it doesn’t change “settled law” in his state, which is one of the most accepting of the procedure.
Yet at a Nevada GOP breakfast with faith leaders last month, Laxalt called Roe v. Wade “a joke” and lamented that Nevada is not anti-abortion rights.
“We’re not a pro-life state. We all have to be honest about that. It’s sad, it doesn’t make me happy,” Laxalt said at the June 6 event, according to audio obtained by The Nevada Independent. “But we are not a pro-life state, and we got work to do on that.”
Republicans who aren’t on the ballot this year are more comfortable with spelling it out directly: The next fight is to force every state to ban abortion, either through state-by-state campaigns or by a federal law banning the procedure.
“Having been given this second chance for Life, we must not rest and must not relent until the sanctity of life is restored to the center of American law in every state in the land,” former Vice President Mike Pence said in a statement last week.
“The pro-life movement’s work has just begun,” said Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.).
Passing a national abortion ban would be difficult but not impossible, as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) acknowledged after the initial leak of the Supreme Court’s draft decision earlier this year.
Democrats have sought to play up the threat of a national abortion ban. Cortez Masto, one of the most vulnerable Democrats up for re-election this year, has called Laxalt “an automatic vote for a national abortion ban in the Senate.”
“Women’s rights aren’t a joke,” she tweeted on Thursday.
The end of Roe is expected to ripple across the entire country, even in states where abortion remains legal. The lack of abortion access in red states is likely to result in a surge of patients in blue states, creating longer wait times for everyone to see a physician.