A July AP-NORC poll showed Republicans are largely opposed to allowing abortion “for any reason” and after 15 weeks into a pregnancy. But only 16% of Republicans say abortion generally should be “illegal in all cases," and a majority, 56%, say their state should generally allow abortion six weeks into a pregnancy. According to AP VoteCast, a national survey of the midterm electorate, 61% of all voters said they were in favor of a law guaranteeing access to legal abortion nationwide.
The national sentiment has made some Republicans wary of the party's traditional full-throated opposition to abortion rights.
South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace, a Republican who says she is opposed to abortion, said she believes the early push on the issue is misguided. She said she believes the majority of voters in her swing district opposed the Supreme Court's decision to overrule Roe.
“This is probably not the way to start off the week,” Mace told MSNBC.
Republicans supporting the two measures took pains not to connect them with overturning Roe, emphasizing that they were narrowly focused.
“I want to be absolutely clear that this bill has nothing to do with the Supreme Court decision,” said Missouri Rep. Ann Wagner, the Republican sponsor of the bill.
Rep. Barry Loudermilk of Georgia said the measures passed Wednesday reflect what Republicans see as immediate abortion priorities. House Republicans still “need to have a discussion” about more wholesale changes, namely an abortion ban, he said.
Loudermilk said he thinks the issue should be left to the states for now, "otherwise we start muddying the waters again.”
Emboldened by public opposition to the Supreme Court decision, Democrats enthusiastically opposed the measures, predicting that Republicans were only laying the groundwork for a national ban.
“The differences between our side of the aisle and their side of the aisle couldn’t be any clearer," said Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York.
Democrats criticized the resolution condemning attacks on pro-life facilities as one-sided because it did not condemn similar — and long-standing — violence against abortion clinics. The resolution is “woefully incomplete,” said New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.
The Democrats argued that the legislation imposing new penalties on doctors is unnecessary because it is already illegal to kill an infant. It would create complicated new standards making it harder for health providers to do their jobs, they said.
“It is a mean-spirited solution in search of a problem,” said Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif.
Last summer, the Democratic-led House voted to restore abortion rights nationwide, but that legislation was blocked in the closely divided Senate. That bill would have expanded on the protections Roe had previously provided by banning what supporters say are medically unnecessary restrictions that block access to safe and accessible abortions.
The GOP bills are destined to suffer a similar fate in the Senate this session. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Americans elected Senate Democrats “to be a firewall” against what he said are Republicans’ extreme views.
“Republicans are proving how dangerously out of touch they are with mainstream America,” Schumer said.
Associated Press writers Hannah Fingerhut, Kevin Freking and Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.