Arrest made in rape of 10-year-old #Ohio girl who was barred from getting an abortion in her home state. https://t.co/CEegNKXPgj Many had considered the child's story a "hoax." Ohio GOP Rep. Jim Jordan has deleted his tweet calling it "another lie." https://t.co/3e8aKbO311— Patt Morrison (@pattmlatimes) July 14, 2022
In the three weeks since the Supreme Court’s ruling on Roe, Republicans poised for a winning midterm election have strained to keep public attention squarely on President Joe Biden’s weak job approval ratings and on inflation, fearful that abortion — a deeply felt issue that polls poorly for conservatives — could lift Democratic turnout and push moderates away from the GOP.
The case has become an instant flashpoint in the nation’s abortion wars, alarming Republicans as they try to use abortion to rally base voters without alienating the majority of Americans who say abortion should remain legal in at least some circumstances.
But the case of the pregnant 10-year-old has laid bare how uncontrollable GOP messaging around abortion may be. Not only were right-wing media outlets and Republican politicians who cast doubt on the story forced to backtrack once the facts of the case were confirmed, but the hits to Republicans appear likely to keep coming.
On Thursday, Jim Bopp, the National Right to Life Committee’s general counsel, inflamed the issue when he told POLITICO that the 10-year-old girl should have carried her pregnancy to term – a statement he later said resulted in him receiving death threats.
Despite what GOP leaders and strategists would prefer, the story is unlikely to fade quickly. Later this month, Indiana’s state legislature plans to convene a special session explicitly to pass new curbs on abortion, likely becoming the first state to do so in the wake of the Dobbs decision that reversed the national right to abortion enshrined by Roe in 1973.