May 18, 2019
Previously Unreleased Poll Suggests Abortion Bans Could Backfire On Republicans In Alabama And Elsewhere

As pro-choice advocates across the country and around the world react to Alabama's passing of a historically restrictive ban on abortions, including in cases of rape and incest, a previously unreleased poll suggests that Alabama voters may not be in lock step behind their Republican political leaders, Mother Jones reports. Although Alabama remains a firmly conservative pro-life state, a poll conducted last year, but not shared until now, shows that just 31 percent of the state's voters favor such a restrictive ban. When it comes to cases involving rape and incest, as many as 65 percent opposed banning abortion, according to the poll.

As it stands now, Alabama's law bans abortions in all cases with the exception of situations where the life of the mother is in danger.

Many analysts have pointed out that laws like this one in Alabama are intended not only to curtail abortions within the confines of the state, but ultimately to be challenged in court in hopes of a Supreme Court hearing that could potentially upend Roe v. Wade, the existing law of the land which has guaranteed Americans the right to abortions since 1973.

Other states following a presumably similar strategy seem to be driven by the same goal. Lawmakers in Missouri likewise introduced a ban on abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is generally as soon as six weeks into a pregnancy. Assuming the bill is signed by the governor, Missouri will become the fifth state to enact such a heartbeat ban this year.

It is possible, however, that the apparent momentum of such pro-life gambits could backfire for Republicans when it comes to approaching elections.

"It's a self-inflicted political pain for Republicans, not just in Alabama but frankly across the country," says Zac McCrary, a Democratic pollster who is based in Montgomery, Alabama. Polls such as the one conducted in Alabama reinforce the idea that even in traditionally pro-life states, extreme prohibitions, particularly those that refuse provisions even for cases of rape and incest, are not generally supported by average citizens.

Senator Doug Jones, the Alabama Democrat who narrowly defeated Republican Roy Moore in a high-profile special Senate election in 2017, came out in forceful opposition to his state's bill, surprising many given the challenging political landscape Jones navigates as a Democrat in a deeply red state.

"The people of Alabama deserve to be on the #rightsideofhistory – not the side of extremists," he tweeted in response to the Alabama bill.

As of last year, support for Roe v. Wade polled at 71 percent nationwide, laying the groundwork for a volatile and potentially hazardous path forward for those looking to make abortion a big part of the 2020 elections.