US Republicans are split over the issue of abortion rights, with many states reluctant to pass outright bans.

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The failure of two bills curbing abortion rights in two deeply conservative US states this week highlights growing Republican concerns about the threat the issue poses to their political ambitions. Reproductive rights will take center stage in the 2024 election, with both Democrats and Republicans aiming to capitalize on an issue that polarizes Americans like no other. However, conservative politicians hoping to impose severe restrictions after the US Supreme Court gutted federal protections last year have been having second thoughts amid a backlash from voters galvanized by the threat to their freedoms.

On Thursday, South Carolina’s Senate and Nebraska’s legislature, both about two-thirds Republican, rejected a near-total prohibition and a six-week ban, respectively, as conservatives defied their own parties to block the legislation. It was the third time draconian curbs had failed in South Carolina since the high court’s ruling in June. The failure of the ban at six weeks provoked a visceral reaction on both sides of the debate in Lincoln, Nebraska. However, a comfortable majority of Americans think abortion should be legal in most cases, and around half of US states have measures in place to protect access.

According to polls, reproductive rights remain a winning issue for voters, with a majority of Americans believing abortion should be accessible, affordable, and available for everyone seeking care. Anti-abortion politicians have overplayed their hand, and voters are making it clear – abortion justice cannot wait. Republicans have struggled to stake out a definitive position on the issue and were punished in last year’s midterm elections as candidates lost key battlegrounds to pro-choice candidates. Although elected politicians in some of the country’s most conservative states have passed near-total or six-week bans, voters themselves in other states have moved to protect abortion.


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