The Abortion Ruling Should Be a Political Earthquake


An upcoming Supreme Court ruling that could overturn Roe v. Wade is expected to dramatically upend the midterm elections, adding new urgency to key races across the country and giving Democrats fresh hope that they can retain crucial positions at the of the state in a political environment. that threatens their narrow majorities in Congress.

If the court’s decision to overturn Roe passes, it will be one of the least popular major political moves in recent memory. According to decades of public polls, only a third of Americans, at most, support reversing the 49-year-old precedent that gives women the right to have an abortion.

Republicans are already working to downplay the decision’s ramifications — in particular, that abortion may soon be banned in about half of the 50 states — while Democrats hope to highlight that reality as a way to push through the Republicans for Out of Control Extremists.

“What are the next things that are going to be attacked? President Joe Biden told reporters on Wednesday, referring to Judge Samuel Alito’s draft opinion. obtained and published by Politico. “Because this MAGA mob is truly the most extreme political organization that has ever existed in American history – in recent American history.” (The leaked draft opinion is not final and could change before the court issues its final decision in the coming months.)

Biden suggested the court’s 6-3 conservative majority — which includes several justices who insisted they considered Roe established law during their confirmation hearings — could soon threaten same-sex marriage and other freedoms. individuals currently protected by Supreme Court precedent. These concerns have been echoed by other Democrats.

“Clearly the intention is not to stop at the issue of reproductive choice,” said Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.), who is running for re-election in a swing district. “What next? Contraception? Deciding how many children to have or not have children at all? Can you marry the person you love, regardless of gender or color? Can women get credit in their own name? Or buy a house? Or choose to have a job?

At the same time, if the court formally overturns Roe, it is unlikely to do much to change the usual pattern of midterm elections, where the ruling party almost always loses seats in Congress.

Only a small minority of Americans view abortion as a deciding issue in the vote, and record inflation and dissatisfaction with Biden are likely to play a more central role in November’s contests. And Republicans are protected from some backlash by gerrymanders in key states, and by a Senate map that gives rural white voters — a key GOP constituency — massively disproportionate power over American politics.

“I do not see [overturning Roe] as being a decision point for Iowa voters,” Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) said on Conservative Hugh Hewitt’s radio show Wednesday. “They are concerned about high inflation for 40 years, prices at the pumps, a bad economy. That’s what worries them, so I think it might be a bit of a problem here, but not overall.

A CNN/SSRS poll, conducted in January, shows the complexity of the issue. The survey found that only 26% of Americans would be “satisfied” or “happy” if the Supreme Court overturned Roe, while 60% would be “dissatisfied” or “angry”. (For comparison, a poll showed that about 3 in 10 Americans supported the idea of ​​“defunding the police” in 2020.) That was just one factor among many.

“Our Democratic Governor’s veto pen is really the only protection we have to protect the right to choose here in Pennsylvania.”

– Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D)

Other polls indicate support for certain restrictions on the right to abortion. Gallup’s most recent survey on the issue revealed that 32% of Americans think abortion should be legal in all circumstances and 13% say it should be legal in most cases, while 33% say it should be illegal in most cases. most circumstances and only 19% say it should be illegal in all circumstances. That means voters could be looking for some as-yet-undefined common ground on the issue.

Abortion rights, however, are popular with two constituencies Democrats worry about: young people, who have soured on Biden and whose turnout typically plummets in midterm elections, and college-educated women. university, which Republicans have aggressively courted.

Mini Timmaraju, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said on a conference call on Tuesday that the upcoming decision should energize Democratic voters in a way that previous messages on the right to abortion.

“Now is the wake-up call, not just for our grassroots constituents, but also for our allies across the spectrum,” she said. “The reproductive rights and justice movements have been telling everyone for decades that this was coming, that Roe was already ineffective in large parts of the country, already ineffective for women of color, people of color. It was really difficult to organize around that, to be honest.

The political earthquake generated by the ruling would likely be felt most intensely at the state level, as the decision would give state and local authorities massive power over a right long protected by a federal ruling. Democrats, in particular, believe a decision to overrule Roe could help incumbent governors, gubernatorial candidates and other statewide candidates for office in blue-tinged swing states, including Nevada, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Maine and Minnesota.

“There’s going to continue to be an uphill battle on the political side of things,” Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford (D) said. “It is going to happen at the federal level and obviously at the state level as well. And that will certainly motivate the vast majority of people who are still in favor of this constitutional right to the ballot box. At least that’s what I suspect. »

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D), for example, had already begun asking the state Supreme Court to declare abortion rights constitutionally protected in Michigan. (At present, the state prohibits abortion on books dating back to the 1930s.)

“No matter what happens in DC, I will fight like hell to provide access to safe and legal abortion in Michigan,” Whitmer said in a video message posted to Twitter.

Many swing states — including Michigan, Arizona and Pennsylvania — have Republican-controlled state legislatures that would almost certainly pass strict abortion bans given the chance. This now allows Democrats in those states to present themselves as the last line of defense.

“Our Democratic governor’s veto pen is really the only protection we have to protect the right to choose here in Pennsylvania,” Josh Shapiro, Democratic Pennsylvania attorney general, said in a call with reporters Tuesday.

For the federal races, the near certainty of a divided government in 2023 means that any sweeping abortion rights legislation is a near-term impossibility. But that’s likely to be a major issue in the Senate and House contests. Democrats were especially hopeful the issue could give a boost to Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), widely considered the most vulnerable incumbent in the Senate.

A sign opposing Nevada Senate candidate Adam Laxalt is seen outside the federal courthouse during a protest in Reno, Nevada, this week.

Photo by Ty O’Neil/SOPA Images via Getty Images

Nevada voters are among the strongest supporters of abortion rights in the country. A survey conducted in the state last year found that 65 percent described themselves as “pro-choice,” and the state constitution protects the right to abortion for up to 24 weeks. But Ford said the possibility of a federal ban will continue to excite Nevadans.

“They’re trying to lull the people of Nevada into a false sense of complacency,” Ford said. “We will not rest on our laurels.

The reaction of Cortez Masto’s most likely opponent, former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt, also shows how the GOP is hiding from the implications of one of the biggest conservative political victories in decades. Laxalt’s statement hailed the leaked ruling as a “historic victory for the sanctity of life,” but stressed that abortion rights in Nevada are “established law.”

Laxalt’s statement is emblematic of the GOP’s strategy on the issue — an effort to downplay the impact of what would be a seismic political victory for the right. Former President Donald Trump, who remains the party’s de facto leader, released several statements on Tuesday repeating his lies about the 2020 election. t is possible only thanks to three judges he has appointed.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tried to keep the focus on who leaked the draft decision and asked his officials at the Republican Senate conference to do likewise. The Republican National Senate Committee, in a memo reported by Axiostold Republicans to become “compassionate, consensus-builders on abortion policy.”

“Joe Biden and the Democrats hold extreme and radical views on abortion that are outside the mainstream of most Americans,” the memo asserts, underscoring Democrats’ support for late-term abortion rights. The memo asks Republican candidates to insist they don’t want to jail doctors — even though many of the GOP-drafted anti-abortion laws set to take effect would do just that.

The final impact of the upcoming decision is difficult to predict. For decades, a strong majority of voters have supported abortion rights. Still, Democratic pollster Molly Murphy said it’s hard to say how the overturning of Roe v. Wade could affect the political landscape because it’s uncharted territory — and voters just didn’t believe it would happen.

“You would see some support for Roe in the ’60s and the belief that he could be undone in his teens or 20s,” Murphy, president of Impact Research, told an EMILY’s List conference in Washington. , DC, on Tuesday. “This huge credibility gap has always been a problem in being able to fully unleash what we know is the fire in the bellies of not just female voters – male voters care about it across the country as well.”

“The hardest thing to do is to ask people to come up with a hypothesis that they don’t think will be there,” she said. “I wish I had the answer.”




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