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Arizona shows that Trump's abortion issue cannot be left to the nation's states

Arizona shows that Trump's abortion issue cannot be left to the nation's states

(CNN) — It took a day to dismiss Donald Trump's claim that the abortion issue was “almost out of the question” for the 2024 election — and a surprise court ruling renewing a Civil War-era abortion ban. .

The Arizona Supreme Court's order to enforce a 160-year-old law that has an exception to save the life of a pregnant woman opened a wide path for Democrats in a state that could decide the presidential election and its fate. of the Senate. Democrats see an opportunity to appeal to their winning issue of late — reproductive rights — and especially to suburban women.

The ruling is the latest in a string of tough court rulings and actions following the U.S. Supreme Court's 2022 repeal of the constitutional right to abortion. Abortion activists. And it threatens to create yet another region of the United States where abortion services are unavailable.

For Trump, the timing of the sentence could not have been worse.

The presumptive Republican nominee on Monday sought to moderate the issue of abortion, one of his biggest weaknesses in his bid to return to the White House. Trump's gamble to leave all abortion policy in the hands of states is designed to create the impression that he opposes a federal abortion ban, despite previously publicly flirting with the possibility of banning abortions. The Biden campaign pointed out Tuesday that some journalists took the former president's words literally and that he was not specifically opposed to the abortion ban.

If what happened in Arizona means abortion is left up to the states, Trump's damage control effort was weaker than it appeared on Monday. For abortion rights advocates, Arizona's decision is a sign of the national confusion and fragmented rights caused by overturning Roe v. Wade. It's easy for them to point to the culprit: Trump did it for them.

The former president said in a video Monday that he was “proudly responsible” for ending the constitutional right to abortion nationwide, thanks to the conservative majority he was unable to build on the U.S. Supreme Court. This year he cemented his bond with socially conservative voters when he won his third Republican nomination. At the same time, Trump — a shrewd reader of the changing political winds — understands that an election on abortion could derail his hopes for a second term. Thus, its formula of “leaving it in the hands of the states” seems to be an attempt to position itself on the most defensible political ground possible, even knowing that it is the most vulnerable on the issue.

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Democrats are taking advantage of Trump's discomfort

Just how exposed Trump has become can be seen in the New Democratic Party's attack in the wake of the Arizona ruling. Vice President Kamala Harris, who will visit the state this Friday, has used the former president's own words against him, saying Biden's campaign is clinging to the initiative in a state the president narrowly won in 2020 but is in better shape this year. , a heads or tails for him. With voters bitter about Biden's leadership on global crises, immigration and dealing with higher grocery bills, gas prices and even higher interest rates, Democrats desperately needed an opening.

“Arizona turned back the clock to a time when women couldn't vote, and by its own admission, one person is responsible: Donald Trump,” Harris said in a statement. The vice president's point is that Americans will hear it thousands of times between now and Election Day because Democrats will point the finger at Trump every time there's a controversy over abortion.

Biden's campaign launched this week Heartbreaking announcement It highlighted the plight of a Texas woman who nearly died from infections and was unable to get pregnant again because she was denied treatment under the state's restrictive new abortion law. “Donald Trump did it,” reads a phrase on a black screen at the end of the ad. The case highlights how even women who are pregnant by choice and want to give birth to their children can be at risk from restrictive abortion laws.

In his newly announced position on abortion policy, Sen. from South Carolina. Trump responded angrily to criticism from some Republicans, including Lindsey Graham. The former president delivered a sermon on social media, warning Republicans that the massive success of the modern conservative movement ironically threatens to sow negative electoral consequences for years to come.

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His position on the issue provided a fascinating snapshot of Trump's political brain. As usual, he placed political expediency above political or ideological commitment, was concerned above all with his own electoral prospects, and demanded loyalty from conservatives even as he sidelined political allies.

“We cannot allow our country to be further damaged by losing an election on an issue that should always be decided by the states, now they will decide!” Trump wrote on Truth Social on Monday. “By allowing states to make their own decisions…we have largely taken the issue of abortion off the table,” Trump wrote.

Trump's hope may not come true

To say that Trump has put the issue “off the table” is not true, and not just because Democrats believe they have him on an issue that will help them win the election.

Returning abortion to the states — the central rationale of the conservative Supreme Court majority, which Roe v. Wade—That doesn't mean everyone will calmly agree to decide the issue. The opposite has already happened: the Supreme Court has created national confusion. Activists opposing abortion rights have eagerly moved to the next phase of their battle: in many cases they are aiming to abolish abortion altogether. Conservative legislatures and judges combined to pass and maintain even more restrictions. For example, Florida is about to implement a six-week abortion ban with the support of its judiciary. In Alabama, IVF treatments were temporarily suspended because the state Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos should be considered children. An effort to restrict nationwide use of the widely used abortion pill mifepristone recently reached the US Supreme Court.

Abortion rights advocates, for their part, are capitalizing on the liberal movement's biggest defeat in decades — the reversal of Roe v. Wade — and believe they have an issue that can bring women, American voters, suburbanites and young people to the polls. Despite their widespread disillusionment with Biden. In recent years, Democrats have scored important victories putting abortion on the ballot, even in conservative states like Ohio and Kentucky. They hope a vote this fall in Florida on whether to add abortion rights to the state constitution could boost turnout and put the state Trump has won twice, as well as a key Senate race, back into play.

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Arizona's statute dates back to 1864 — before Arizona became a state — and was codified in 1901. It punishes abortion providers with two to five years in prison. That puts Arizona among the states with the strictest abortion laws in the country, along with Texas, Alabama and Mississippi, where the bans are without exceptions. The state Supreme Court delayed the law's entry into force for 14 days to allow it to be challenged in lower courts.

Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs said the court ruling was a sign that “the fight for our reproductive freedom is far from over.” Democratic state Attorney General Chris Mayes vowed: “As long as I'm attorney general, no woman or doctor will be prosecuted under this draconian law. Not by me or any district attorney serving our state under my rule.”

The potential for Arizona's decision to hurt the Republican Party is highlighted by how quickly the state's top Republicans came out against it, in some cases reversing their previous support for the abortion ban.

“I oppose today's ruling and call on Katie Hobbs and the state legislature to come up with an immediate, common-sense solution that Arizonans can support,” said Republican Senate candidate Gary Lake. In a June 24, 2022, interview on the podcast “The Conservative Circus with James D. Harris,” Lake — then a gubernatorial candidate — said: “I'm incredibly excited that we're going to have a big bill already.” That's ARS 13-3603. I think it would ban abortion in Arizona and save the life of the mother.” ARS 13-3603 is a law that bans nearly all abortions, and the Arizona Supreme Court on Tuesday required the state to enforce it.

Lake's Democratic challenger for the open state Senate seat, Rep. Ruben Gallego was quick to highlight the inconsistency, portraying Lake as a model of “extremist politicians” who “forcibly enter doctors' consultations and deprive women of their right to health decisions.”