Whatever happened to the exceptions for rape and incest?

The most fervent anti-abortion activists felt differently. They never liked the exceptions, but they came to tolerate them. That was because until recent years, the anti-abortion movement had a plan: to win over as many Americans as possible, to make moderate Republicans comfortable working with them, and to maximize the chances of success before the Supreme Court. Fighting against rape and incest exceptions was not an immediate priority.

Moreover, these exceptions were rarely used. Sexual assault and incest were (and are) massively underreported; many survivors who did come forward were not believed. Sexual violence was common, but at least officially, few abortions were justified on the basis of rape or incest. For anti-abortion advocates, convincing popular majorities took precedence over writing laws that would prevent abortions in all circumstances.

Not anymore. Both the anti-abortion movement and the GOP have evolved, as has their relationship to each other. Some of this is about the Supreme Court. With six conservatives—including three Trump nominees—the Court seems poised to roll back abortion rights. Few anti-abortion activists are worried about building broad public support when they have a Court that looks willing to give them everything.