Republican Midterm Candidates Are Trying To Rewrite Their History On Abortion. Here’s What That Means.

Shefali Luthra, The 19th

Multiple Republican midterm candidates have removed from their campaign sites references to particularly strict anti-abortion stances, a shift from primary campaigning to the approaching general election and an indication of growing concern in the Republican Party over how to handle abortion policy post-Roe v. Wade.

Arizona U.S. Senate candidate Blake Masters, who is trailing incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly in recent polling, removed language from his website indicating support for a “federal personhood law” that would treat abortion as murder.

Tom Barrett, running in Michigan’s 7th Congressional District against Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin, removed language saying he would “always work to protect life from conception.”

And in North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District, since winning the May 17 primary, Republican Bo Hines has removed his “life and family” issues section from his website, which previously linked to a fundraising page touting his belief “that life begins at conception and that we must protect the rights of the unborn.”

Masters’ website now suggests he supports a law banning third-trimester abortions, which are already allowed in only a handful of states. Barrett’s website describes him as “consistently pro-life.” Hines’ website has no reference to abortion.

The changes to Masters’ and Barrett’s websites were first reported by NBC News and the Detroit News, respectively. The changes to Hines’ website have not been previously reported. None of the campaigns responded to requests for comment from The 19th. Masters’ campaign staff pointed NBC News to remarks from the candidate suggesting he would support a third-trimester abortion ban; Barrett told the Detroit News that his stance on abortion had unchanged.

Before his primary, Hines, who is running for an open seat, told the Raleigh News & Observer that he would back legislation banning all abortions, with no exceptions for rape or incest. He hasn’t weighed in publicly on the matter since the primary.

All three political contests are rated toss-ups by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. While most forecasters still expect Republicans to take the House in the November elections, Democrats’ chances have improved in recent weeks, in part because of voters’ opposition to near-total abortion bans.

The shifting campaign language reflects a broader problem for Republicans in close contests, said Melissa Deckman, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute. Total abortion bans are incredibly unpopular. Polling data analyzed by the institute found that, even in states enforcing near-total abortion bans, the majority of people oppose prohibiting all abortions.

“It’s the proverbial dog that’s caught the car. For decades you had the Republican Party running on a platform largely that sought to ban abortion or to essentially make it very difficult to obtain an abortion,” Deckman said. “Now that the theoretical possibility has become a reality, the real-world ramifications of that have not been calculated well by many Republican leaders.”

This story has been edited for length. Read the full story at The 19th.

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