With the US supreme court seemingly poised to exploit its conservative supermajority to undermine or overturn the landmark Roe contra Wade decision, Democrats are vowing to make abortion a defining issue of next year’s midterm elections, embracing what they view as a political silver lining in an otherwise nightmare scenario.
As the justices weigh whether to uphold a Mississippi law banning most abortions after 15 semanas, far earlier than Roe allows, and a request by the state that they explicitly overturn the histórico 1973 ruling, Democrats and their allies have promised a fight.
Across the electoral battlefield, they are kindling what they hope will be a political reckoning over abortion.
“It’s earth-shattering,” said Jenny Lawson, vice-president of organizing and engagement campaigns for Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “The court’s actions are going to change the way people think about reproductive freedom and how essential it is. It will be a driving force of the election, undoubtedly.”
During oral arguments on Wednesday, the six conservative justices on the nine-member bench signaled they were comfortable with Mississippi’s abortion law, despite the precedent established by Roe in 1973, affirmed en 1992, that women have a right to end their pregnancy until the point of fetal viability, a aproximadamente 24 semanas.
That law has been blocked by lower courts and the state appealed. El caso, Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, pits Mississippi against the last abortion clinic in the state.
Several justices appeared willing to overturn Roe entirely, in what would be a momentous decision allowing states to govern the procedure, though the signals were less clear on that pivotal point.
A decision is expected in June or July, arriving in the heat of the 2022 political campaign season.
While the issue of abortion has traditionally been a more powerful motivator for Republican and evangelical voters, Democrats say there are signs the political debate is shifting in their favor as the latest and fundamental threat to abortion rights comes into clearer focus.
Already facing daunting odds next year, given Joe Biden’s sinking poll numbers, Republican gerrymandering, and a poor showing in last month’s off-year elections, Democrats were searching for a new approach to reset the political dynamics.
They are hopeful that an intense focus on abortion will not only rally their base but win back suburban swing voters who have shifted toward the Republican party since Donald Trump’s exit from the White House.
“Elected officials should be unapologetic about championing and protecting abortion access,” Lawson said. “There’s nothing to spin. The threat is so real and there’s no state in the nation where banning abortion is popular.”
After the oral arguments, Democrats and party officials signaled they were prepared to use abortion as a cudgel against Republicans in battleground states like Nevada, Florida, Arizona and Wisconsin.
En una oracion, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the campaign arm of Senate Democrats, dicho abortion access would be a “defining issue” of next year’s elections.
“Abortion rights are hanging in the balance at the supreme court, and the threat to Roe is very real,” Senator Patty Murray of Washington, el no 3 Senate Democrat, said in a floor speech on Wednesday.
“Why? Because for decades, extreme Republicans have attacked abortion rights from every angle and they are continuing their non-stop efforts to build a country where patients are forced to remain pregnant and carry their pregnancies to term against their will.”
Republicans see political advantages as well, after a decades-long conservative campaign to push the federal judiciary to the right, with the ultimate goal of overruling Roe.
“Today is our day,” congressman Steve Scalise of Louisiana, el no 2 Republicano de la casa, told supporters outside the supreme court on Wednesday. “This is what we’ve been working for.”
If the court overrules Roe, 21 states have currently unenforceable laws on the books that would ban or severely restricts abortion access almost immediately.
Already, Republican-controlled legislatures are pushing new restrictions and copycat legislation of a Texas law that effectively bans abortions after six weeks and makes no exceptions for rape or incest. The supreme court let that law stand while the justices consider its constitutionality.
Molly Murphy, a pollster with the Democratic consulting firm ALG Research who recently surveyed battleground state voters on abortion, said it could be a potent issue for Democrats.
But to be successful, she said Democrats must “connect the dots” for voters who support Roe but don’t yet perceive the threat to abortion access as likely or imminent.
She encouraged them to highlight “punitive measures,” like the Texas abortion law, as a way to brand Republicans as extreme on the issue.
“Awareness of the Texas law is very, muy alto," ella dijo. “But for a lot of these voters, they don’t necessarily believe that it’s going to happen where they live. They don’t necessarily know the Republicans are trying to do this across the country.”
Emphasizing Republicans’ efforts to curtail abortions would also serve to undermine their economic message, Murphy said.
“They’re not going to fix the economy or bring down costs. They’re going to ban abortion," ella dijo, boiling down the argument for Democrats. “That’s what they want to do and that’s what their priorities are.”
Democratic strategists believe Republicans face a “dog who caught the car” conundrum over abortion. Por décadas, Republicans have energized their conservatives with promises to ban abortion. But now the political landscape has shifted and Democrats say Republicans will have to defend their anti-abortion views in a way they didn’t when the threat was theoretical.
“Republicans are between a rock and a hard place here,” said Chris Hayden, a spokesperson for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
John Fetterman, the Pennsylvania lieutenant governor and a Democratic candidate for the state’s open Senate seat, called on Senate Democrats to abolish the filibuster and pass federal legislation codifying abortion rights.
“If you won’t do what it takes to pass this bill now, when abortion rights are on the line, then you’re not pro-choice,"Dijo en un comunicado. “It’s that simple.”