Republican Uses ‘Great Replacement’ Theory to Justify Abortion Ban

“Our state population has not grown except by those foreigners who have moved here or refugees who have been placed here... because we’ve killed 200,000 people.”
Cameron Joseph
Washington, US
Steve Erdman for Legislature

As Nebraska Republicans moved to ban most abortions in their state on Wednesday, one used arguments straight from the racist “great replacement” conspiracy theory to push for the bill’s passage.

Nebraska Sen. Steve Erdman argued that abortion had caused slow population growth in the state over the last half-century—and argued that it had hurt Nebraska economically.

“Our state population has not grown except by those foreigners who have moved here or refugees who have been placed here. Why is that? It’s because we’ve killed 200,000 people. These are people we’ve killed,” Erdman said during debate, after lamenting that if abortion had been illegal that would have resulted in more people who “could be working and filling some of those positions that we have vacancies.”


Erdman’s comments came during debate over a bill that would ban abortions after six weeks of pregnancy—before many women know they’re pregnant. It includes exceptions for rape, incest, and lifesaving procedures. The bill advanced on a Wednesday evening vote.

His views seem to draw from the racist great replacement theory. That theory, in its purest and most extreme form, posits that there’s a conspiracy by globalist elites—in many versions, Jews—to overwhelm western countries with immigrants in order to outbreed and replace the white-majority population and take control of those countries. Abortion is part of the theory—extremists argue that the procedure is part of hastening a “white genocide.” 

It’s been used to justify multiple white supremacist terror attacks and violence. At the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in 2017, tiki torch-wielding white supremacists chanted. “You will not replace us” and, “Jews will not replace us,” the day before they rioted. The murderers who massacred Jewish worshippers Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue in 2018, mostly Mexican-American shoppers at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas in 2019, and Black grocery shoppers in Buffalo, New York in 2022 all cited versions of this theory as reasons for their violence—as did the man who shot up two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019.


Republicans have increasingly embraced a watered-down version of that theory in recent years. In their rendition, Democrats want to admit a huge number of immigrants so they can dominate elections and control the country. 

And Erdman isn’t the first Republican to connect this theory to abortion.

Then-Iowa Rep. Steve King argued in 2017 that “culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”

Matt Schlapp, the head of the influential group that hosts the Conservative Political Action Conference and a close confidant and former top staffer for former President Donald Trump, made the explicit connection just days after the Buffalo shooting.

“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.”

Erdman’s remarks about population replacement weren’t his only eyebrow-raising remarks on abortion; he also argued the most vulnerable people weren’t women carrying unwanted pregnancies, but the fetuses themselves.

“Those who we should care for are the babies. It’s not the mother. It’s not those who are choosing to have an abortion. It’s the babies. It’s the babies. This is about a heartbeat. This is about a human life,” he argued. “This is not medical care, killing someone. I don’t know who we think we are, that we can choose to be God. God created those people. They deserve a chance.”

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