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Debate Highlights Republican Party’s Split on Abortion

The first debate of the Republican presidential primary showed the growing divide in the GOP over laws restricting abortion.

Martha MacCallum, co-moderator of the debate, asked the candidates how they would seek to restrict abortion at the federal level. She mentioned that it has been a losing issue for Republicans since the Supreme Court’s decision on Roe v. Wade.

While anti-abortion groups are pressuring policymakers to limit the procedure at the federal level, there is no consensus among the candidates. Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley believes that a federal ban would be unlikely to pass, emphasizing the need for consensus and avoiding demonization.

On the other hand, candidates like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Vice President Mike Pence aimed their message at evangelical, pro-life voters. DeSantis signed a six-week abortion ban in his state and emphasized a “culture of life,” while Pence advocated for a 15-week ban, supported by polls.

Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina also supported the 15-week ban, expressing his opposition to unrestricted abortions until the day of birth. North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, however, advocated for leaving the issue to the states, citing the 10th Amendment.

Despite their differences, pro-life groups like Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America applauded candidates who supported a national ban on abortion. They criticized candidates who believed the issue should be left to the states.

Opponents of abortion limits have responded to these candidates’ views on social media platforms like X, claiming that no one supports abortion up to birth. Additionally, Planned Parenthood argues that the term “late-term abortion” is misleading and intended to confuse people about abortion procedures.

While Republican candidates are divided on the issue, Democratic lawmakers have also proposed legislation to legalize abortion until birth. In 2022, Senate Republicans blocked a bill sponsored by Democrats that aimed to establish a nationwide right to abortion at any stage of pregnancy.

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