Democrats fear a Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade seriously endangers women’s health and disintegrates one of their most sacrosanct political rights.
But despite all the anger and concern, some party members see a way to turn the shared anxiety into action in November.
They say the possibility – expected by many court watchers – that abortion will suddenly become illegal in states across the country could galvanize voters like few other issues could, especially as President Biden remains plagued. to low approval ratings and difficulties at home and abroad.
“Reproductive freedom is poised to have a huge impact on the midterm elections,” said Ally Boguhn, acting director of communications for NARAL Pro-Choice America. “Voters are increasingly faced with the reality that the nearly 50-year-old constitutional right to abortion could be eviscerated just months before they cast their vote.”
Biden’s inability to move past 40 in the approval polls has caused many Democrats to view the House as a loss and cast the Senate as a danger zone. Polls indicate his efforts to control inflation have failed to impress voters, and his focus on Russia’s foreign war in Ukraine is less compelling than domestic issues such as the economy and the high cost of gas.
The looming threat to abortion rights, however, has caused Democrats on both wings of the party to prioritize the issue more rigorously. They see it as something that not only motivates their base, but can also bring infrequent or less engaged voters into the fold at a critical time.
Polls consistently show that most voters support abortion rights. In more than three decades of Gallup polls, support for the overturning of Roe v. Wade never exceeded 40%, and an NBC News investigation last month found that, by a margin of more than two to one, voters are “more likely” to support a candidate who backs Roe.
Ahead of November, many Democrats have already started strategizing on ways to show voters that Republicans are behind efforts to reduce women’s health.
“Fears of what would happen if Roe were toppled are already playing out in states where anti-choice politicians are working tirelessly to ban abortion and cut off access to it as quickly as possible, and voters are watching,” he said. Boguhn said.
This is especially true in swing states where Democrats are preparing for tough re-election campaigns against GOP candidates.
In New Hampshire, Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) is in what is expected to be a competitive matchup against an as yet unknown GOP rival. Hassan, a former governor, has spoken out openly against efforts by current governor Chris Sununu (R) to drastically restrict abortion rights in the state, which has reliably provided health protections reproduction of women.
Sununu has declined to challenge Hassan in the Senate, but Democrats nonetheless expect anyone who becomes the Republican nominee to adopt a restrictive pro-life platform — and craft attacks with that in mind.
“Our campaign already speaks directly to Granite Staters about the contrast between Senator Hassan’s unwavering support for reproductive health care and his opponents’ track record of gutting women’s freedom,” said Kevin Donohoe, spokesperson for Hassan’s campaign.
“New Hampshire has a long, bipartisan tradition of support for reproductive freedom, and our opponents’ long record in favor of banning abortion couldn’t be more toxic to voters,” he said. .
Republicans see the issue as equally provocative for their own base.
Each cycle, GOP candidates and aligned committees spend significant resources trying to portray Democrats as the party that supports abortion in more extreme scenarios, such as later in a woman’s pregnancy.
These efforts have led several battlegrounds to enshrine laws that make the procedure more difficult to obtain.
In Michigan, Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D), a Biden ally who is also up for reelection, has preemptively asked the state Supreme Court to consider whether having an abortion is a constitutional right.
The move was made in anticipation of upcoming Supreme Court rulings on several abortion cases, including a Mississippi law that bars the procedure after 15 weeks. Proponents of this measure and other anti-abortion measures are openly asking the 6-3 conservative majority high court to reject Roe v Wade this term.
In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who is up for re-election this year and reportedly has presidential aspirations for 2024, on Thursday made his state the latest to follow in Mississippi’s footsteps with a 15-week ban.
Other states have considered or enacted even more restrictive bills, with Oklahoma set to ban the practice after just six weeks, or even permanently in the near future.
Despite all the action on the Republican side, Democrats say they have become more active and better organized, challenging state-by-state decisions and rallying activists on the ground in key areas ahead of midterms.
Many also made their voices heard from Washington.
Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill and senior White House officials have united around reproductive rights to show a unified front as other issues divide party factions.
Biden’s inability to persuade key members of the Senate to help push through his legislative agenda has crushed Democrat morale, and the administration continues to seek more tangible gains to offer voters.
Outside activists have also focused on hammering Republicans on what they see as an affront to personal identity and freedom, as well as a losing issue at the ballot box.
“The Republican Party’s decades-long crusade to end legal abortion is now taking effect,” Cecile Richards, co-chair of the Democratic American Bridge Society and former president of Planned Parenthood, said Friday.
“Voters are starting to realize this is 100% the result of the Republican Party prioritizing politics over women’s health.”
North Carolina Democrats say a Supreme Court ruling that would let states determine their own abortion laws is a political disaster for the other side. They see new restrictions as causing significant harm to women who have already seen various attempts by GOP lawmakers to try to limit their access.
While previous efforts to protect abortions have failed — the state has a Democratic governor who has not endorsed such attempts — the fall election could add a new focus to the health care debate. a way some acknowledge to be both motivating and terrifying. .
“If you weren’t with us when we were fighting back against attempts to restrict abortion access and fund Planned Parenthood, then how can we believe this is suddenly with us now?” asked Erica Smith, a House candidate and former North Carolina state senator vying to replace a more moderate Democrat, Rep. GK Butterfield (D), in the First Congressional District.
Women “deserve to take this pain, this frustration and this righteous anger to the polls and fight back,” she said.
The tribunal is expected to issue its decisions towards the end of June. But neither Democrats nor Republicans are waiting to act.
“Attacks on reproductive freedom are a massive liability for Republican politicians, and that will be even more so if Roe is unseated,” Boguhn said. “Democratic candidates up and down the ballot would be wise to consider their support for reproductive freedom.”