Is Ted Cruz ever going to feel some pressure about abortion?

News item #1:

Whatever happens in Arizona in November, we got a preview of the difficulty Republican candidates will have in states where high-stakes ballot initiatives literally put abortion on the ballot. Shortly after Arizona’s high court ruled that the state must go back to the 1864 abortion law which forbids virtually every abortion, Kari Lake, probable GOP Senate nominee (and governor over the water) released a remarkable statement. She first denounced the 1864 law, which she said she supported as recently as last fall. She said she opposed today’s ruling. She then demanded Gov. Katie Hobbs and the Republican state legislature “come up with an immediate common sense solution that Arizonans can support.” She then said that the decision will be up to voters in the ballot initiative that will be on the November ballot — that is, the initiative she actually opposes.

So let’s review. Lake opposes the law she had consistently said she supported. She denounces the court decision which ruled that the old law is in effect. She thinks the decision should be left to the states. She also opposes abortion. Also, Arizona is a state.

She also wants Governor Hobbs to solve the situation. Which would presumably mean making abortion legal. Even though Lake opposes abortion.

News item #2:

Just two weeks after the Florida Supreme Court upheld a 15-week abortion ban and cleared the way for a six-week one to take effect, Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) is publicly attempting to soften his stance on abortion.

Even before the Florida Supreme Court ruling earlier this month, which focused on the six-week ban, but also allowed abortion and marijuana citizen initiatives to appear on the ballot in November, Democrats have painted Florida as their best bet, albeit by a long shot, for Senate pickup in 2024. With a new six-week ban fresh on voters minds as they head to the polls, Democrats are increasingly hopeful that the ballot initiative will juice turnout and help make Florida winnable for Democrats again after Donald Trump won the state by 3.4 percent in 2020.

After the Florida rulings and a poorly-timed (for Trump) Arizona ruling — which put a near-total abortion ban from the 19th century back on the books in the state — Trump bluntly told reporters that he would not sign a national ban into law if he wins the election. That’s just days after he made a big, long anticipated, non-announcement on his abortion positioning: that the issue is best left to the states.

Now Scott is clearly feeling some heat as he campaigns for reelection in the fall. The Florida senator told The Hill in an interview published Monday that he would support replacing Florida’s six-week ban with a 15-week ban, which is quite a walk back for the “pro-life” Republican who, at the time of its passage, said he would’ve signed the six-week ban into law if he were governor, too.

“So if I was writing a bill, I’d think that 15 weeks with the limitations is where the state’s at,” he told The Hill. “I think it’s important we do what there’s consensus (for).”

“If I was writing a bill, I think 15 weeks is where the state is,” he continued. He also pulled out the old, tired, baseless accusation that Democrats want to “allow abortion up until the moment of birth” in defense of his softening stance.

“I’ve been pro-life, and I think we need to continue to the importance of being pro-life and I think the other thing is we ought to be very clear that Democrats are barbaric. They want — they’ve already voted to allow abortion up until the moment of birth,” he said.

I bring these up to say that abortion and having the right to an abortion suddenly yanked away is a huge issue in the 2024 election, and yet I see little evidence of this right now in Texas. I’m trying to understand that.

There are important reasons why there’s such a focus on Arizona and Florida – a newly bluish swing state along with the center of US political gravity since at least 2000, the sudden change in status for abortion brought about partly by wingnut legislatures and partly by wingnut Supreme Courts, the presence of abortion rights referenda on the November ballot, and of course the Senate races, where Democratic wins would vastly improve things from that perspective. I think the sudden change in status plus the referenda are the big reasons, and that combination forced the Republican Senate candidates to respond.

Things are a little different in Texas, where abortion has basically been outlawed since 2021 and we don’t have a referendum process. It’s neither as immediate here nor as hands-on. While Democrats can hope to alter the makeup of our Supreme Court, there’s no majority at stake, and nothing short of flipping the State House is likely to alter the course of the 2025 legislative session, though only in a “not make things measurably worse” sense. The odds of that are quite long, and it’s another thing no one is talking about.

That said, it’s not like there haven’t been enormous, consequential abortion stories out of our state in recent months. There’s Kate Cox and Amanda Zurawski and her co-plaintiffs. The mifepristone case originated here. The EMTALA case didn’t originate here, but EMTALA was overridden here by the same combination of an extreme zealot judge hand-picked by the litigants and a handmaidenesque Fifth Circuit that lives to serve for these situations. We’re in this mess in large part because of Texas. It just doesn’t get talked about in those terms.

Obviously, the main person who should be talking about this is the one with the biggest megaphone and the most to gain from it, and that’s Democratic Senate candidate Colin Allred. And to be fair, Allred is talking about abortion. That it’s not getting the same level of media attention is not something he can control. I’m writing this post in part because that part of the equation is driving me crazy. What do we have to do to get some attention on this?

Well, for one, I think having more Democratic candidates and officeholders also talk about this would be helpful. Having it come up in damn near every conversation would be helpful. Pestering the allies we have in the national media about this would be helpful. Just having someone directly ask Ted Cruz about mifepristone, EMTALA, the fact that women have to flee the state to save their lives, that would all be helpful. Believe me, if there were a magic wand I could wave, I’d wave it.

Maybe the weight of this issue will eventually make a difference. Maybe nothing will, and the campaign will continue on with a primary media focus on other things, other places, other people. I don’t know. But if I have one goal for right now, it’s for what I asked in the title of this post. Will Ted Cruz ever feel the need to say something “moderate” about abortion? It would be a pretty big damn deal if he did. That he hasn’t so far feels like a big missing piece of the puzzle. And it will keep making me crazy as long as it happens.

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4 Responses to Is Ted Cruz ever going to feel some pressure about abortion?

  1. Flypusher says:

    I’d also like to see some blow back on Ted Fled for touting chip manufacturing jobs from a bill he voted against.

  2. J says:

    It makes me angry that there is never any statement from the Texas Democratic Party about all the horrible things the fascists do. Diversity, equality, inclusion, women’s rights, the rights of parents to get appropriate care for their kids, teachings about the damages of racism, are all things that are easy to defend and should be loudly defended. These decent, reasonable things are being destroyed by radical Republicans. Where are the statements from Hinojosa? Why do we never hear from any Democratic spokesperson?

  3. Joel says:

    “Why do we never hear from any Democratic spokesperson?”

    My inbox is full of that stuff. Where are you looking? If the answer is “the media,” then I think you have proven kuff’s point.

  4. Charly Hoarse says:

    “We’re in this mess in large part because of Texas” reminded me of Molly Ivins’ warning to the Country about bad ideas emanating from this state.

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