Abortion rights in the US have shaped the public debate in the country in 2022 amid to the legislative electionespecially after the Supreme Court decision which put an end to five decades of legal support from federal instances for women who opted for the procedure.
Now, past the midterms —mid-term elections—, US party politics is reorganizing itself for the presidential election, and the issue is already emerging as one of the central topics for 2024.
In the last week, the Florida Governor, Republican Ron DeSantisquoted as one of the biggest names to run for the presidency in two years, said he is “looking forward to signing great pro-life legislation.”
Asked about the possibility of a “heartbeat law”, as laws in other states are called that prohibit abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected, which usually occurs around the sixth week of pregnancy, DeSantis said: ” It’s something I always said I would do.”
Other Republicans have also spoken out, such as the ex-vice presidente Mike Pencewho said in an interview at the end of November that “one of the greatest legacies” of the period in which he was Donald Trump’s deputy was “to restore the sanctity of life at the center of legislation”.
On the other hand, President Joe Biden repeats as much as he can the goal of making abortion rights federal law and signed a series of decrees in recent months on the fringes of what he can do as president, such as protecting women who travel for the procedure and prohibiting them from being discriminated against at work or at school.
Despite the division between Democrats and Republicans at the top, the discussion turned out to be more complex than imagined, and the The issue of abortion was not just a dispute between the left and the right..
When, on June 24, the Supreme Court suspended the call Roe vs. Wadea 1973 decision that understood that abortion was a guaranteed right in the US Constitution, the expectation was that the decision would be the password for anti-abortion movements and state legislatures to implement increasingly restrictive policies.
What was seen, however, was the opposite. Defending the right to terminate a pregnancy politically organized women even in more conservative statesand the clearest message came in the midterms, the legislative elections that took place in November and renewed the Chamber and part of the Senate.
At first, opinion polls pointed out that uncontrolled inflation in the country would punish Joe Biden’s Democratic Party and would give a majority in the Legislature to the Republican Party.
After the court’s decision, however, Democratic candidates gained traction even in more conservative regions in the interior of the country, with women registering to vote (suffrage is not mandatory in the US) and rejecting anti-abortion candidates. The result was that the Democrats not only maintained but expanded their majority in the Senate, contrary to predictions. At Chamber, lost, but by a much narrower margin than originally anticipated.
Anthropologist Debora Diniz, a professor at the University of Brasilia and a researcher on reproductive rights, says that “the issue of abortion goes beyond the traditional boundaries we understand about parties and agendas.”
“The history of the Republican Party in the USA until the 1970s and 1980s was not one of restricting the criminalization of abortion. This is something very recent”, he says. “The issue of abortion is built in a supra-party way”, he summarizes, citing the opposite example in Brazil, where “parties more what we would call the left have moral or conservative conceptions in terms of abortion”.
This apparent inconsistency in the issue of the agenda is seen more clearly in state legislatures and courts, true battlegrounds for the issue of abortion in the US, since the possibility of approving national legislation on the subject today is small.
In Michigan — governed by a Democrat but whose local legislature is controlled by Republicans — voters managed to pass an amendment to the state Constitution protecting the right to abortion. In more Republican Kansas and Kentucky, voters rejected amendments that said there were no abortion rights in the state.
Even so, the situation is far from being resolved, and today nearly 35 million women of reproductive age live in states where abortion is totally or partially prohibited, according to government data.
The Supreme Court decision also encouraged changes in other areas, and there was a movement to enact customary guidelines that were guaranteed by court order.
In November, the US Congress passed recognition of same-sex marriagewhich until then was guaranteed only by the maximum court.