Republican Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina said Sunday that abortion could hinder her party's chances in the midterm elections if it continues pushing harsh policies, such as a ban without exceptions for rape.
“I do think that it will be an issue in November if we’re not moderating ourselves — that we’re including exceptions for women who have been raped, for girls who are victims of incest and certainly in every instance where the life of the mother is at stake,” Mace said in an interview on NBC News' "Meet the Press."
“‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ was not supposed to be a road map, right?" she added, referring to Margaret Atwood's 1985 dystopian novel in which women are forced to give birth. "This is a place where we can be in the center, we can protect life, and we can protect where people are on both sides of the aisle."
After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a federal judge allowed South Carolina's six-week abortion ban to go into effect. Legislators in the state have held hearings recently to consider further restrictions, including a bill that would ban abortion in all instances except to save the life of the mother and criminalize the act of helping someone obtain an abortion.
Mace, who described herself as "staunchly pro-life," said the measures are out of step with voters in her state. She also urged legislators to moderate their approach by considering gestational limits of 15 to 20 weeks.
“The vast majority of people here are OK with some guardrails, but they don’t want the extremity of either side,” Mace said.
A national NBC News poll, conducted in May after the leak of a draft majority opinion indicated that the Supreme Court would strike down Roe, found that support for abortion rights has reached a record high. A combined 60% of respondents said abortion should be either always legal (37%) or legal most of the time (23%), and a combined 37% said abortion should be illegal, either with exceptions (32%) or without exceptions (5%).
As she criticized a law in her state that requires rape survivors to report their assaults to law enforcement to qualify for abortion exceptions, Mace, who has spoken openly about having been raped at 16, said: “It took me a week to tell my mother. ... I can’t tell you how traumatic that event was in my life."
Mace was one of eight House Republicans who voted with all 220 Democrats on a bill that would codify the right to contraception nationwide.