Reproductive rights advocates are taking the fight for abortion to the states

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Three prominent reproductive rights groups have announced they will spend $150 million on advertising in the midterm elections.

Reproductive rights advocates are ready and responding to the leak on Monday of a draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, the Supreme Court case on the constitutionality of Mississippi's ban on abortion after 15 weeks' gestation, before a fetus can survive outside the uterus.

Politico, which published the leaked document, reported that its author, Justice Samuel Alito, and at least four other justices — Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett — had decided in favor of overturning the 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade that affirmed a constitutional right to abortion in the United States. 

Should that decision hold true when it is officially released, expected to be in June, abortion will be banned in at least 13 states that have trigger laws set to automatically take effect if Roe is overturned. As many as 19 other states might ban or severely limit abortion.

However, reproductive rights advocates are not taking this sitting down. Three of the most prominent reproductive rights groups — Planned Parenthood Action Fund, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and EMILY's List — had already announced before the draft was leaked that they were set to spend $150 million on advertising in the 2022 midterm elections in nine states: Georgia, Nevada, Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, California, Kansas, and Wisconsin.

In a statement released Monday, the groups explained that they would be taking a robust approach that will include voter outreach and mobilization efforts, contributions to candidates, communication guidance, and in-person actions. The groups also indicated that they would be making investments "up and down the ballot," in races for state legislatures, governors, state attorneys general, and Congress. 

Some of the money will go to states with competitive Senate races, such as Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. In other states it will be used to focus on preserving abortion rights in the face of a potential onslaught of bans.

In Michigan, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has provided an example of actions that states may take to preserve reproductive rights. Whitmer asked the state Supreme Court to rule on whether Michigan's constitution guarantees the right to an abortion. A decision that it does would go a long way toward protecting the right to abortion in the state.  

One of the states targeted for advertising by the groups, California, is working to make itself an abortion refuge if Roe is overturned.

With crucial midterm elections approaching in November, the infusion by reproductive rights organizations of cash and energy into preserving access to abortion in the face of nationwide anti-abortion efforts by right-wing groups could help shape the political landscape beyond 2022. As EMILY's List President Laphonza Butler said in a statement, "It's never been more crucial to secure pro-choice majorities at all levels of government to stop anti-abortion lawmakers from decimating our access to abortion across the nation."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.