NBC News reported earlier this week that there’s an effort in the Republican Party to change how their anti-abortion stance is branded. That’s thanks to public opinion turning against the term “pro-life” following the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade last year.
The idea: shift the language away from “pro-life” and find a new term. Republican Sen. Todd Young started out earlier this week by using the term “pro-baby,” while the term “pro-mother” has also been suggested.
New York Magazine’s Irin Carmon joined MSNBC host Chris Hayes on the network and noted that even people who supported abortion rights have been known to tell pollsters they were “pro-life.”
“Who’s against ‘life’? ‘Pro-choice,’ by contrast, never satisfied anybody in the movement that supports abortion rights, because it was wishy-washy and kind of libertarian,” Carmon said. “But as you well know, Republicans don’t have a messaging problem — they have a women getting sepsis problem. They have a teenager or pre-teen being forced to carry to term problem. They have a problem that the Alabama attorney general says he will prosecute people who try to help people cross state lines to get an abortion. No language change in the world can occlude the reality of what these policies actually mean beyond the rhetoric.”
Hayes said that it goes deeper than just rhetoric, but is actually “conceptual.”
“The point is that you’re saying, this is a human life, and it has to be treated like a human life — the six-week fetus,” Hayes said. “That has implications — moral implications, legal implications — that they don’t want to face, but are the actual implications of the thing that they’re saying.”
Carmon argued that a term like “pro-baby” is a stretch.
“Even what they’re suggesting as an alternative — ‘pro-baby,’ ‘pro-mother’ — anybody reading the news… I mean, voters are not stupid,” Carmon said. “We see again and again, in referenda, in proxy elections that concern this issue, that voters actually really understand what is happening here, and so the attempt to kind of change the subject is not effective so far. And honestly, if the reality weren’t so hideous, them backing away from pro-life would actually be kind of funny.”
Hayes responded, finding some dark comedy in this decision.
“Yeah. I mean, I take some humor in it, because I watched them use this for so long,” Hayes said. “I mean, this is all about politics, right?”
The MSNBC host went on to explain why he believes Republicans “have a substance problem, they don’t have a messaging problem.”
“Here’s how I think they understand it,” Hayes began. “I think they think that the extremes are what’s killing them, politically. The story of the woman who has to get sepsis in the parking lot. The story of the Texas woman who is forced to give birth, and forced to carry to term a non-viable fetus. The woman in Florida who had to hold this baby who took two breaths before it died, that her father-in-law called ‘state-sanctioned torture.'”
Hayes continued, “They’re like, ‘if we can get rid of that, maybe we put some exceptions in, and we get a consensus at 12 weeks, we’re going to be good.’ That’s what they think, and that’s what they’re going to try to message on.”
Carmon disagreed that Republicans are even ready to engage with the issue in that way. Instead, conservatives seem to be shifting back to “old, tried and true” arguments based around later-term abortions.
“They just want to go back to saying that it’s Democrats who are extreme,” Carmon said, “and that’s why you’re also seeing people — at least rhetorically, not so much with their votes on the national level — but saying, OK, everybody should be supporting a 15-week ban.”
Carmon pointed out that this proposed national ban wouldn’t just create a limit in states like Alabama, but would limit abortion rights in states where voters generally support the right to have an abortion.
You can watch the full discussion between Hayes and Carmon above.
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