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Fight to vote:
Republicans keep passing extreme anti-abortion bans without popular support. Here’s why Most Americans don’t want abortion bans but gerrymandering allows politicians to face little accountability
 
Sam Levine in New York

Hello, and Happy Thursday, As states have passed a wave of increasingly extreme abortion restrictions in recent years, a sort of puzzling contradiction has emerged. The American public broadly supports the right to an abortion, public polling has shown, yet politicians who pass these controversial restrictions are consistently re-elected. Why is that? Yesterday, we published a story that seeks to answer that question. A big part of why politicians face little accountability is gerrymandering. State lawmakers, who have the power to draw the boundaries of their own districts in most places, can pick which voters they represent and virtually guarantee their re-election. It’s more important than ever to understand this dynamic. In his draft opinion overturning Roe v Wade, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that abortion is an issue that should be resolved by the political process, not the courts. By insulating politicians from accountability, extreme gerrymandering prevents the political process from doing that. In 2019, Alito joined four of the court’s conservative justices in saying there was nothing federal courts could do to police even the most extreme gerrymandering. Few places better capture the link between partisan gerrymandering and extreme anti-abortion measures than Ohio. In 2010, Republicans won control of the Ohio legislature and drew new maps that allowed them to hold a veto-proof majority for the next decade. In 2011, the legislature began to pass a series of restrictions on abortion. Republicans enacted a new law that banned abortion after a fetus was viable and required viability testing after 20 weeks. They passed another measure that prohibited taxpayer-funded hospitals from entering into patient transfer agreements with clinics, making it harder for the clinics to operate. In 2019, the state had banned abortion after six weeks, one of the most restrictive laws in the country. (The Ohio Policy Evaluation Network, which tracks abortion access in Ohio has a good timeline of these bills). When Ohio lawmakers were passing these measures, there wasn’t overwhelming public support for them. Ohio voters are closely divided on abortion and a majority did not support the six week ban (one poll after it passed in 2019 showed that a majority of people opposed it). Even so, Ohio Republicans have maintained their majorities in the state legislature. “That mismatch between what we see in public opinion and what we see at the statehouse, really suggests that what citizens are thinking about abortion access really is not reflected in their statehouse,” Danielle Bessett, a sociology professor at the University of Cincinnati, who closely studies abortion care in Ohio, told me. “That suggests that there isn’t a concern about this being sort of something that they’re going to get held accountable for at the polls.” It’s an imbalance that exists across the country. Nationally, 61% of Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, but states are enacting a blitz of increasingly extreme restrictions, including several that are considering outright bans. Republicans continue to control more state legislative chambers than Democrats do, and very few are expected to flip partisan control (fewer than 1 in 5 state legislative districts are estimated to be competitive this year). In Ohio, Republicans have once again engineered maps that preserve their advantage. After the state supreme court struck down five proposals for a new legislative map because they were too gerrymandered, lawmakers ran out the clock. They convinced a federal court to impose a map for the 2022 elections that will allow them to maintain, at minimum, 54% of the seats in the state legislature. “It’s frustrating. In some ways it’s hopeful that people do think that abortion should be a right and should exist for people in Ohio,” Sri Thakkilapati, the interim executive director of PreTerm, an abortion clinic in Cleveland told me. “It’s helpful to know that there are more of us. But in some ways it’s very disheartening…It feels like it’s not gonna make a difference.” Also worth watching… Jim Marchant, a QAnon linked candidate running to be Nevada’s chief election official, is seeking his party’s nomination in the GOP primary on Tuesday.Voters with disabilities are suing Alabama for offering inadequate access to absentee ballots for people who are blind   Thank you for turning to the Guardian Tens of millions have placed their trust in the Guardian’s high-impact journalism since we started publishing 200 years ago, turning to us in moments of crisis, uncertainty, solidarity and hope. More than 1.5 million readers, from 180 countries, have recently taken the step to support us financially – keeping us open to all, and fiercely independent.

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