Republican lawmakers around the country are bringing abortion rights back into the spotlight—much to the chagrin of the party's leaders in Washington, who think the issue was part of the reason Romney lost among women by 11 points. Just this week, Republicans in at least four states introduced legislation restricting abortion, the New York Daily News reports. In Michigan, for instance, 23 Republicans this week co-sponsored a version of the transvaginal ultrasound bill that proved so divisive in Virginia.
Last night Michigan's Republican House speaker said he wouldn't pass the bill, MSNBC reports. "I have absolutely no interest in forcing women to have a transvaginal ultrasound," he said. But Michigan is hardly alone. A bill in Tennessee would require women to undergo a standard ultrasound at least 24 hours before an abortion; another in Alabama could regulate its remaining clinics out of business; and a pair in Arkansas would forbid some insurance coverage for abortions and ban them entirely after 12 weeks. Publicly, DC Republicans say these state efforts won't damage the national brand. But "it can muddy the message the national party is trying to develop," one former House GOP strategist admits. (Read more abortion stories.)