Why do conservatives seem surprised that their anti-abortion laws are working as intended?

Don't believe the crocodile tears — this is what they've always wanted.

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 23: U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) speaks during a hearing before House Select Su...
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It takes a particularly cruel, craven sort of conservative mindset to learn that a pre-teen rape survivor had been forced to cross state lines in order to terminate the unwanted pregnancy caused by her violent sexual assault, and immediately set about disparaging the victim and casting doubt on her experience. That, however, was the prevailing attitude of multiple Republican lawmakers and officials in the wake of reports that a 10-year-old Ohio girl had traveled to neighboring Indiana to obtain an abortion, following her home state’s post-Dobbs ban on vital reproductive healthcare access after six weeks of pregnancy.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, Rep. Jim Jordan, and a host of conservative figures and media outlets leapt on the story as having surely been made up by deranged liberals — calling it, at various points, a “hoax” without “a damn scintilla of evidence” behind it, engineered by Democrats to show “the way abortion has been used to cover up statutory rape for all these years.”

So when the case was ultimately confirmed through basic local reporting and the eventual arrest of the alleged rapist, those same conservatives who had formed ranks to discredit and downplay the attack were suddenly in the unenviable position of having to defend the inevitable and obvious outcome of their decades long effort to deny women their bodily autonomy. Unlike the proverbial dog who catches the car, Republicans can’t simply let go (or in Jordan’s case, delete his tweets) and resume their chasing — this instance (and the inevitable ones to come) is theirs to own. And so we see the same figures who initially refused to publicly acknowledge this horrific crime now scrambling to invent ex-post-facto justifications for why the are suddenly shocked by something they claim was never their intent to begin with.

Don’t even think about giving these conservative lawmakers and figureheads the benefit of the doubt here. This is, whether they admit it or not, exactly what they’ve been working toward for years. This is what they’ve always wanted. No matter their conspicuously awkward efforts to pivot away from the facts of the case, their ultimate (if unspoken) goal is to see more of this, while simultaneously projecting a sense of horror and empathy to the public for as long as they can — until (they hope) cases like the Ohio one become so commonplace that the public simply accepts it and moves on. At least Jim Bopp, the attorney for the National Right to Life group behind the model legislation that would have made the Ohio child’s inter-state abortion illegal, had the integrity to be honest about his goals, telling Politico that “she would have had the baby, and as many women who have had babies as a result of rape, we would hope that she would understand the reason and ultimately the benefit of having the child.”

Republican lawmakers, however, know they can’t come out and say that just yet — at least, not en masse. To do so would risk electoral suicide as the party of forced child birth in a country that still overwhelmingly supports reproductive health access. And so lawmakers like Jordan and his ilk are left to make the best of this liminal position between embracing their accomplishments while pretending to disown them. It’s an impossible position, and hopefully, the more they flail the more the public will understand that this is what the GOP has always stood for, whether they want to admit it or not.