House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) did not get to where she is by misreading the public mood. She understands well how unpopular Republicans’ support for upending Roe v. Wade is. And she will make Republicans face the consequences of their radicalism.
Second, Pelosi will bring forward legislation that makes clear “Americans have the Constitutional right to travel freely and voluntarily throughout the United States.” The targets here, of course, are red states where antiabortion zealots aim to reach beyond their borders by punishing women who seek abortions in other states.
Third, Pelosi will once more force a vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act, which she describes as the “landmark legislation to enshrine Roe v. Wade into the law of the land.” She might also consider bringing up legislation to correct some of the most egregious results of Republicans’ agenda. For example, how about a bill that ensures minors who are victims of rape and incest are guaranteed access to abortion? Or that allows a woman to end a pregnancy if it poses “serious health consequences”?
Pelosi is not stopping there. She writes: “In his disturbing concurrence, Justice Clarence Thomas confirmed many of our deepest fears about where this decision might lead: taking aim at additional long-standing precedent and cherished privacy rights, from access to contraception and in-vitro fertilization to marriage equality. Legislation is being introduced to further codify freedoms which Americans currently enjoy.”
This could force Republicans to vote on preserving the right to same-sex marriage, private sexual conduct, contraception and in-vitro fertilization. In other words, Pelosi will require Republicans to either repudiate Thomas’s extremism (which might offend their extreme MAGA base) or adopt positions that will alarm a great number of Americans. Democrats running against Republican incumbents who campaigned as “moderates” would no doubt appreciate these defining votes to help voters understand just how radical the GOP’s agenda has become.
Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) should force votes on these measures as well. Let Republicans on the ballot in 2022 explain why they voted against women’s reproductive rights and preemptive protections for marriage equality.
For Republicans in Senate contests whose extreme forced-birth position is greatly out of step, these votes could provide much needed clarity. In Wisconsin, for example, nearly 60 percent of voters want abortion legal in some or all cases. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), however, wants a total ban on abortions. Even in relatively conservative Ohio, the issue could be explosive. Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance was excoriated for a tweet mocking women in which he said, “If your worldview tells you that it’s bad for women to become mothers but liberating for them to work 90 hours a week in a cubicle at the New York Times or Goldman Sachs, you’ve been had.”
Pelosi has hit on precisely the right tactic to push back MAGA Republicans: Make them own their radicalism, and see how voters react.