Former counselor to former President Trump, Kellyanne Conway, advises the Republican Party to focus on allowing women to keep contraception after the overturn of Roe v. Wade in 2022. According to the former presidential campaign manager, focusing on keeping contraception instead of pushing for further abortion bans is the only way to beat Democrats this election cycle.
The fall of Roe v. Wade
On June 24, 2022, in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned 50 years of precedent, overruling Roe v. Wade, essentially removing federal protection of the reproductive rights of women. Within 100 days, 1 in 3 women in the U.S. found themselves living in states with limited or no legal access to abortions. Fourteen states have almost complete bans on abortions, and six states have bans ranging from the 6th to the 20th week after the woman’s last menstrual cycle.
A win for Pro-Life
Pro-lifers and anti-abortion groups celebrated the overturning of the 50-year precedent of federal reproductive rights protection. Conservative Republican politicians quickly took the opportunity to change state laws to limit or ban abortions in their states.
Women want abortion rights
Women of childbearing age across the country became concerned for their futures, wondering if the new laws would stop at abortion or spread further into birth control and other women’s health issues.
Sarah McCammon stated on Weekend Edition Saturday, “The anti-abortion movement may be winning policy battles, but the politics are shakier for Republicans. In the months after Dobbs in states where questions about abortion were on the ballot last year, voters consistently supported abortion rights. And several new polls indicate that about 6 in 10 Americans think overturning Roe was a bad decision.”
Focus on birth control, not abortion
Kellyanne Conway is one of a group set to brief the Republican Party on how to bring women back and win votes from the Democratic Party. Her solution to the idea that the GOP “hates women” is to focus on what they are supporting instead of what has or will be taken away—talk about contraception, not abortion.
Pro-life supporters expected a sweep of red during state elections with the support of the Dobbs decision. The opposite happened. Virginia’s legislature stopped the GOP governor from limiting abortions when votes went toward Democrats. Ohio added abortion protection to its constitution. And Kentucky reelected Andy Beshear, their pro-choice governor.
Independent Women’s Voice CEO Heather Higgins says, “Republicans are like your uncle, who really loves you and loves the women in his family, but he’s bad about showing it.” “It’s just not in their natural vocabulary. And we’re trying to help them learn how to make this be more part of their vocabulary and tell them that they need to talk about these things that their constituents all support, and be more visible and vocal.”
Support of accessible birth control
Independent Women’s Voice released a study that KA Consulting, Conway’s firm, conducted that showed strong public support, even from Republicans and pro-life advocates, for policies that make contraception accessible and affordable, including implantable long-acting versions like IUDs, which can be controversial among conservatives who consider these a form of abortion.
Republicans could vote Democrat
Conway plans to warn Republicans that putting contraception further out of reach “will lose precious political currency and votes.” According to polls, conservative women are willing and ready to vote for another party candidate if Republicans continue to back birth control restrictions.
‘Bleeding’ young voters
On the flip side of conservative women being willing to vote for another party are young voters looking for candidate options outside of Biden and Harris. In an interview, Conway said, “You’ve got a fair number of Democrats saying that they want an alternative to Biden and Harris, or they may sit it out. He’s especially bleeding young voters, who you would think would be animated and interested to hear about [contraception], and who are in the prime of their years and choosing to conceive or not to conceive.”
Conway spoke about her surprise at how many women polled were concerned with keeping contraception available, regardless of cost, noting this is especially true in states with limited or no abortion access. “I’ve been doing this for over three decades and I’m very surprised that over 8 in 10 independents and over 8 in 10 pro-lifers would agree with that,” she said. “Because some people say: ‘You may have a right to contraception but why am I paying for it?’”
Not a great record
Women’s health advocates plan to keep the voting record of the GOP top-of-mind this coming election cycle, making sure a rebrand does not gloss over recent acts. Recently, Republicans in the Senate blocked the Right to Contraception Act after it had passed in the House. The spending bill presently up for a vote in the House would eliminate the Title X family planning program and the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program.
Trump blames anti-abortion issue
Former President Trump, with whom Conway has no formal role in his current campaign but remains personally acquainted, blames the anti-abortion rhetoric for electoral defeats in the last two years.