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Republicans Now Want To Distance Themselves From Their Own Massively Unpopular Views on Abortion

Abortion rights protesters march outside

Republicans are finally starting to realize that their unyielding opposition to abortion and total refusal to respect the bodily autonomy of women and impregnable people is an unpopular political stance.

Some Republicans still think the best line of action is to double down on the unlikable authoritarian approach. Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan recently said his GOP colleagues should “lean into” their anti-abortion image and not “shy away from it.” They’re monsters and Jordan thinks everyone should know it.

But most are starting to realize that being the party of oppression isn’t all that great for their electability. After Kansans overwhelmingly voted against an anti-abortion referendum this summer, even Lindsey Graham called it a “wake-up call” on the issue.

And then there’s Scott Jensen, Minnesota’s Republican candidate for governor. Jensen has been vehemently anti-abortion, saying in interviews that he would try to ban abortion in all circumstances, with no exceptions for rape or incest, “unless the mother’s life is in danger.”

Now Jensen is trying to walk back his previous comments in a new campaign ad titled “The Issues That Matter.”

“I’ve delivered 500 babies in my career,” Jensen says in the ad while holding what appears to be a newborn baby (subtle!). He goes on to say that “abortion is divisive” and accuses his opponent, Democratic incumbent Tim Walz, of “weaponizing the issue.”

Jensen says that in Minnesota, abortion is “a protected constitutional right and no governor can change that, and I’m not running to do that.” That’s all true, but it hasn’t stopped him from saying in interviews that he wants to do that, that he supports doing that, and that given the chance, he would sign any bit of anti-abortion legislation he could.

Jensen then goes on to say we should all “focus on the issues that matter.” To him, that means things like crime, schools, and parental rights. “That’s what I’ll fight for,” he says.

Except what voters are making abundantly clear, if only people like Jensen will listen, is that abortion is an issue that matters—a lot! When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, Kansas—which was already looking ahead to the anti-abortion referendum on August ballots—immediately saw a massive spike in voter registration, and the overwhelming majority of those new voters are women.

This is an issue that matters. Jensen’s attempts to dismiss it as fringe or inconsequential aren’t likely to go over any better than his previous outright attacks.

(via HuffPost, image: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.