Leaked House GOP Platform Uses Shorthand For Extreme Anti-Abortion Position

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 11: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The public got a sneak peak at what appeared to be House Republicans’ “Commitment to America,” a party platform to be unveiled Friday, when the plan briefly went live online Wednesday before being pushed behind a password. 

Some of its details were captured — and capitalized on — by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) office. Well-timed reporter screenshots got the gist too. 

One of the most notable planks in the plan reads: “Protect the lives of unborn children and their mothers.” 

The phrase “unborn children” is often shorthand for the concept of “fetal personhood,” the anti-abortion stance that fetuses are essentially just small children, and have rights under the 14th Amendment. Fetal personhood laws would push past the abortion bans that are now in place in many red states, and reclassify the procedure as murder. 

Justice Samuel Alito peppered his majority opinion in Dobbs with hints of support for the theory. It used to occupy the fringes, but has since trickled into the mainstream of the anti-abortion movement as the best way to outlaw abortion nationwide.  

The Supreme Court concluded in Roe that a fetus is not a person under the 14th Amendment — not exactly a dependable backstop, after the Court overturned that ruling this summer. 

Still, the phrase “unborn children” is common enough in anti-abortion circles that Republicans could claim ignorance of the linkage. As the debacle over Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) abortion ban showed, Republicans are still trying to orient themselves in a way that appeals to their hardcore anti-abortion base, but that doesn’t alienate voters that support some form of abortion access, who make up the majority of the country — and some of whom Republicans will need to win the midterms. 

Also amid the document’s right-wing red meat are hints of the Big Lie, the myth that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump and that the system is still vulnerable to future theft. This kind of thinking is setting the stage to enable valid elections to be overturned in the future, if Trump or other big ticket Republicans lose. 

The document promises to “increase accountability in the voting process through voter ID, accurate voter rolls, and observer access.” 

Republicans have long used facially neutral voting laws like stringent ID requirements and purging the voting rolls to try to guarantee a voter pool more favorable to them. Recruiting partisan poll watchers is another tactic the right has embraced to intimidate voters and election workers. 

The document also promises to ensure that the electoral process “respects state sovereignty” — a possible wink at the independent state legislatures theory, which would hugely empower state legislatures to craft election rules and voting laws without any regulation or check by state courts.    

The Supreme Court will hear a case based on the theory — Moore v. Harper — this upcoming term. 

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