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Supreme Court overthrow of Roe reshapes Democrats’ battle to keep Congress

“There is no doubt that this is a central issue that will be on the minds of voters,” Peters said.

After the GOP’s long campaign to install a conservative majority and overthrow deer was successful, Friday represented a critical moment for a Democratic party that must now begin its own long-term effort to expand access to abortion. Additionally, the decision drowned out House approval of the Senate gun safety bill, one of the party’s greatest achievements in years.

In the wake of the ruling, Democratic candidates in the Senate races railed against the filibuster, hoping to extend their majority next year and codify deer into law by removing the 60-vote Senate requirement to pass most bills. But that push would be moot without keeping control of the House, and the move to unravel a nationwide right to abortion access has breathed new life into the Democrats’ long campaign to keep the lower house.

And in the battleground state of Wisconsin, Planned Parenthood clinics closed abortion access at least temporarily after the ruling due to a state-level criminal law, crystallizing issues of race for the state senate.

“It is now a reality. I mean, our clinics don’t do abortions anymore, so women have to travel somewhere else,” said state treasurer Sarah Godlewski, who is seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) this autumn. “We should have codified this a long time ago. And I think that comes down to saying we need more pro-choice female Democrats, because they would prioritize getting this done.

Democrats on Capitol Hill have been preparing for this moment for weeks. Party senators held a special caucus meeting on Thursday ahead of the expected court ruling, while House Democrats had their own discussion a day earlier.

“It’s more important than gas prices now. It’s more than inflation,” said Rep. Marc Veasey (D-Texas), whose home state now has a near-total ban on gas. He offered a glimpse of the Democrats’ midterm message: “You’re going to see them attack contraception now. You’re going to see them attack basic human rights.”

The Senate failed to pass a bill expanding abortion rights last month after POLITICO released a draft majority opinion on Friday that said deer in office, and many Democrats are not eager to replay those votes. Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) said there was no need to put Republicans back on the record because it’s clear “where Republicans are going to stand.”

Instead, she predicted the issue would be “galvanizing” halfway through.

Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio.), who leads the Congressional Black Caucus, said “it makes no sense” to hold votes on the abortion access bill, advising Instead, Democrats focus their energy on getting their base out in November.

Democrats also lack the votes to weaken the filibuster due to senseless resistance. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona), who both support codification deer. Several Senate candidates, like Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes and Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), have vowed they’ll get the extra votes to gut the filibuster.

“Sinema is part of the problem. Manchin is part of the problem. Schumer is part of the problem, if they don’t drop the filibuster,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Arizona), who threatened to run Sinema from the left in 2024.

Still, weakening the 60-vote threshold could also allow Republicans to push through nationwide restrictions once they regain power. In the past, the GOP has called for a 20-week nationwide abortion ban.

While party leaders have long been preparing for this outcome, they have mainly focused on how to channel voter anger into turnout. A handful of House and Senate seats could determine who controls Congress next year, though Democrats’ prospects of retaining the House in particular are fading by the week.

Representative Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, campaign leader for the House Democrats, said “for millions of Americans, I think they will have a clear picture of choice come November.”

Access to abortion is a particularly important topic in states where it could now be threatened immediately after the ruling. Many of them include key battlefield districts: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Arizona) said the laws already in place in his state “leave many Arizonans frustrated and scared.”

“We’re going to have many, many states, and Pennsylvania could easily be one of them, where the government is going to dictate women’s health care choices,” said Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.) , a battleground Democrat, who got emotional as she spoke.

The contrasts between the parties, challengers as incumbents, are almost as marked as possible on abortion. Incumbent Senate Republicans Marco Rubio of Florida, Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Johnson of Wisconsin all hailed Roe’s decision. Of these, Johnson is the most vulnerable of them; he downplayed the politics of the decision in interviews. His opponents say they are determined not to let that happen.

Some Republicans hope the decision will stir up the conservative base and remind voters why overturning the Senate is so important. But Democrats are optimistic it could help them in those races, as well as those of Kelly and Sens. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Maggie Hassan (DN.H.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.).

“Some of our battleground states also tend to be the most pro-choice states in the country,” Peters said in an interview, checking off New Hampshire, Arizona and Nevada.

Republicans, meanwhile, seek to flip the question on Democrats, whose legislative vehicle of choice to codify deer also expanded abortion rights in certain circumstances. Republican National Senate Committee Chairman Rick Scott (R-Fla.) has sought to portray many Democrats’ resistance to any limits on abortion as out of step with most Americans.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) predicted the decision would “really energize” Republicans, though he doubted abortion would replace economic issues for many voters.

But House Democrats — whose campaign arm almost immediately began criticizing abortion battleground Republicans — said their recent poll shows most voters want at least some protections. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said, “This is now a very powerful election issue. Not just for women.

Marianne LeVine, Nicholas Wu and Olivia Beavers contributed to this report.


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