UPDATE June 24, 2022: The Supreme Court just overturned Roe v. Wade, the nearly 50-year-old precedent guaranteeing the right to an abortion in the United States in a 6-3 decision. In an ruling written by Associate Justice Samuel Alito, the court ruled: “The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives.”
BUDAPEST, Hungary — The GOP has come up with a solution for the “great replacement” it fears is threatening to replace traditional white Republican voters with immigrants: an abortion ban.
Matt Schlapp, the head of the influential Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) and a confidant to former President Donald Trump, says that overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide, would be a good “first step” in fixing what he says is the problem of immigration in the U.S.
And in doing so, he floated a core concern of white supremacists’ original “great replacement theory” that even fringe GOP politicians haven’t been willing to voice publicly: that immigrants are outbreeding the native-born population and threatening to replace them in society.
“I am very hopeful in America that we will give the right to life to our unborn children,” Schlapp told U.S. media, who were denied entry to the CPAC conference occurring this week in Budapest. Schlapp was asked whether he agreed with the comments made by his host, authoritarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who told the conference that Europe was “committing suicide” through immigration.
“Roe v. Wade is being adjudicated at the Supreme Court right now, for people that believe that we somehow need to replace populations or bring in new workers, I think it is an appropriate first step to give the…enshrinement in law the right to life for our own unborn children,” he said.
Pressed further for what he meant, Schlapp added that he thought overturning abortion and immigration were “separate issues,” but then contradicted himself almost immediately.
“If you say there is a population problem in a country, but you’re killing millions of your own people through legalized abortion every year, if that were to be reduced, some of that problem is solved,” Schlapp said. “You have millions of people who can take many of these jobs. How come no one brings that up? If you’re worried about this quote-unquote replacement, why don’t we start there? Start with allowing our own people to live.”
(The most recent figures from the CDC put the number of legal abortions in the U.S. in 2019 at 630,000.)
The “great replacement theory” is a century-old conspiracy that has found new life inside the Republican Party of late. The danger of this rhetoric was highlighted this week when the 18-year-old accused of killing 10 people in a Buffalo supermarket wrote in his diary about being inspired by the “great replacement theory” or “white genocide,” to allegedly commit the horrific attack.
The conspiracy holds that “native” white Christian populations are being replaced by immigrants of different races and religions and GOP candidates for the Senate have been pushing a specific version of the theory that claims Democrats want an immigrant invasion to overwhelm “traditional” voters and take over the country.
But Schlapp’s version of the conspiracy is even more extreme and aligns with the white supremacist origins of the theory that claims low birthrates will see the country’s “native” population replaced by an immigrant population.
This was a cornerstone of the 2017 Charlottesville rally when white supremacists chanted “You will not replace us” and “Jews will not replace us,” and some in the GOP have echoed similar statements. In 2018, former Rep. Steve King said, “We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies.”
Like many others in the GOP, Schlapp pushed the lie that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, and in the same breath spoke about the dangers of immigration.
When asked directly if he was a supporter or believer in the “great replacement theory,” he didn't back down.
“I think one of the marks on our history is the idea of turning a blind eye to the millions of children who were not allowed to live and could have lived wonderful, beautiful lives and could have contributed in ways we’ll never really understand,” he said. “That to me is what is the most interesting thing the left doesn’t bring up when they talk about criticism of this theory, which I don’t know if I’m not expert in, I’ve certainly read a couple of articles.”
Schlapp also dismissed the link between “great replacement” theory and the shooting in Buffalo. “Clearly they were very troubled and I think it is a mistake to jump to some kind of philosophy or journal entry for us to give some sort of political answer in our society,” Schlapp said.
Schlapp then complained about media reports citing Tucker Carlson’s boosting of the “great replacement” theory, and said it was unfair to link him to the shooting. Carlson, who sent a video message to the CPAC attendees in Hungary this week, has long been a booster of the conspiracy theory on his show.
Asked again if he agreed with Orban’s comments about European countries “committing suicide” by embracing immigration, Schlapp said: “I think Orban is skeptical of their solution, and I think in America we have a solution that could be right around the corner.”
The Supreme Court is expected to strike down Roe in June.
Cameron Joseph contributed reporting.