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Ahead of abortion-ban vote, Republican references 'consensual rape'

Whether party leaders intended it or not, in 2019, abortion is an issue that defines Republican politics. We were reminded of that again today.
Missouri State Capitol
Missouri State Capitol

Last month, Ohio Republicans approved a new abortion ban. Last week, Georgia Republicans went even further. A few days later, Alabama Republicans passed the most extreme abortion ban in recent memory.

Today, it was Missouri Republicans' turn.

Missouri's Republican-led House passed a bill banning abortions at eight weeks of pregnancy with an exception for medical emergencies but not for rape or incest.Republican Gov. Mike Parson is likely to sign the bill.... Under the bill, which passed in the House by 110 to 44, doctors who perform an abortion after the eight-week cutoff could face five to 15 years in prison.

According to an Associated Press report, during the legislative debate in Missouri, Republican Rep. Barry Hovis said that in his experience as a law-enforcement official, most sexual assaults weren't strangers "jumping out of the bushes," but were instead "date rapes or consensual rapes."

The GOP lawmaker later apologized, said he misspoke, and conceded, "There is no such thing as consensual rape."

Missouri, of course, was home to a competitive U.S. Senate race seven years ago, which then-Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) lost after making offensive comments about abortion and "legitimate rape."

Regardless, there's no reason to see the recent state legislative efforts as some kind of fluke or political accident. What's unfolding is the result of a deliberate strategy.

The combination of Donald Trump's presidency, the addition of a very conservative Supreme Court justice in 2017, the addition of another very conservative Supreme Court justice in 2018, and Republican control of several state governments

There was a point a few years ago at which some GOP officials, fearing a backlash in response to the "war on women," pretended to be pro-choice and used highly deceptive rhetoric about contraception as a way to improve their electoral prospects.

Those schemes are over and have been replaced with far more brazen posturing. Republicans are now hoping to end the fight altogether by overturning Roe v. Wade, and in the process, the party is letting the public know that the more the GOP has power, the more it will use that power to end reproductive rights.

Whether party leaders intended it or not, in 2019, abortion is an issue that defines Republican politics.

Update: The New York Times published a good summary of the anti-abortion measures approved so far in 2019.