Rubio Abortion Bill: Why It's All About Politics and Not Policy

ByMarshall Cohen

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is reportedly close to introducing new legislation that would ban abortions in the U.S. after 20 weeks of pregnancy. This bill, which continues the recently white-hot abortion debate, is all about 2016 and not about actually changing policy. 

The legislation, first reported by The Weekly Standard, is similar to a measure the House of Representatives approved last month, as well as a handful of state bills being debated in capitals across the country this summer. All this action comes exactly 40 years after Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal. 

Anti-abortion groups, hoping to chip away at abortion rights in the U.S., are using every avenue possible to achieve their goal. They have been successful this summer in Ohio and Wisconsin, where the state legislatures passed new restrictions on abortion clinics.

The national landscape is more complex: Democrats control the Senate and White House.

Democratic leaders in the Senate, including Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), would never let the bill see the light of day on the floor. It is a non-starter. And the legislation might not even get a so much as committee hearing, according to Politico.

President Barack Obama would surely veto Rubio’s legislation if it miraculously made its way to the White House for signing. Last month, the Obama administration strongly condemned the House measure that similarly banned abortions after 20 weeks.

The House bill “would unacceptably restrict women's health and reproductive rights and is an assault on a woman's right to choose,” the administration said in a release.

So it’s not policy that Rubio is after. It must be politics, and keeping an eye on 2016. 

After a prolonged battle over comprehensive immigration reform in the Senate, Rubio is looking to earn back his conservative chops. He can restore some of his support among the Republican base with a nice chunk of red meat — and nothing is juicier than the controversial topic of abortion within religious conservative circles.

In the 2012 presidential election, 26% of voters were evangelical Christians and 36% said abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, according to exit polls. These groups may not hold the majority opinion but they broke overwhelmingly for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and are influential in the Republican Party.

 Clearly, Rubio thinks they cannot be ignored any longer.