More than six months after their embarrassing losses in the 2012 presidential race, the Republican Party continues to push for harsh controls over women’s rights. High-profile Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Wednesday announced his leadership and sponsorship of a Senate bill to ban abortion after an unborn child is 20 weeks old. You would think that after the near-fatal blow the abortion debate delivered to the national Republican platform, Republicans would ease off this red-hot social issue. Apparently not.
This is not just a single federal campaign. Similar measures have passed the House last month and state versions of the"20-week-ban" are now being debated in the Texas legislature, where they are very likely to be approved.
Rubio himself has been a massive media magnet in the last few years, and so his bill will undoubtedly play off the national visibility he already has. The reasoning behind closing the window for abortions at 20 weeks is that a fetus is able to survive outside the womb at this time. However, the scientific community still disagrees on when this definition of “viability” is established.
Thankfully, the bill faces some massive hurdles before it even gets considered. Most notably, it not only would need to pass the uphill battle that comes with a Democratic Senate, but a near-certain veto by President Obama. Obama's message was crystal clear when he marked the anniversary of Roe v. Wade in 2011: "This Supreme Court decision not only protects a woman's health and reproductive freedom, but also affirms a broader principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters. I remain committed to protecting a woman's right to choose and this fundamental constitutional right."
Nonetheless, whether or not they win this battle, Republicans have their eye on winning the war. The pro-lifers recognize that the 20-week ban might be a strong stance that might strengthen GOP candidates in the 2014 midterm election. Based on the previous alienation of women and secular voters though, this might yet again be a nail in the national coffin for the GOP.
Rubio will also face difficulty even bringing the subject to the floor of the Senate, since it is up to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to actually permit a vote on the bill
Rubio’s anti-abortion measures no doubt play a major role in the abortion debate and are bound to stir political speculation and more popularity among his own party. As this issue takes center stage, Republicans hope to take heat off earlier, flat-out wrong comments about rape and abortion made by candidates like Todd Akin. But even though bills like Rubio's play well with the GOP base, their constraints on women's rights may very well be only stoking the flames of anger from Democratic, female, or independent voters.