facebook linkedin twitter

Abortion Opponents Eye Priorities as High Court Ruling Looms

January 25, 2022by Thomas Beaumont, Associated Press
Abortion Opponents Eye Priorities as High Court Ruling Looms
Handmaids protest abortion restrictions at a recent rally. (AP Photo/John O'Connor File)

In the nearly two months since a conservative majority of justices on the Supreme Court indicated openness to dramatic new restrictions on abortion, money has poured into the political fundraising arm of the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List.

The organization secured $20 million in pledged financial contributions, five times more than it has had at the outset of an election year over its 30-year history, according to figures shared with The Associated Press. Before the recent surge, the group had already signed off on its largest-ever political budget, $72 million, for 2022. That’s nearly $20 million more than it spent in 2020, a year that included a presidential election.

The cash pile virtually guarantees that the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling, anticipated by the summer, will do little to quell what has become one of the most animating issues in the United States. Abortion opponents say they will pump their newfound resources into the November elections.

Once a decision is issued, “there will be a lot of focus on all the states and the midterm elections,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of Susan B. Anthony List.


The Supreme Court is considering a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks. If the law is upheld, anti-abortion activists said much of the attention would shift to Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Kansas. These are states with Republican legislatures but Democrats in the governorship, each of whom is up for election in November.

If the Supreme Court overturns the Roe v. Wade ruling that women have a constitutional right to an abortion, governors in Michigan and Wisconsin would be powerless to overturn restrictions in their states that were already in place before the 1973 decision.

But these governors would be the only obstacle to new measures passed by GOP legislatures, including outright bans on the procedure.

A Supreme Court decision is “really just the beginning of the work,” said Terry Schilling, president of the socially conservative American Principles Project. “Groups have actually been really well-connected with state leaders and investing in campaigns at the local level in these swing states, trying to win control in divided governments.”

Supporters of abortion rights, already feeling a heightened sense of alarm by the prospect of a defeat at the Supreme Court, are well aware of how important the governors’ races may be to their cause.

“Really truly, governors in many states are going to be our backstop,” said Jenny Lawson, vice president of organizing and electoral campaigns for Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “As the decisions come down to the states, these governors are the ones who can protect access.”

She declined to specify how much money the group was budgeting to support candidates who back abortion rights.


Some of the Democratic governors up for reelection are increasingly highlighting their commitment to protecting some form of access.

“And as long as I’m governor, that’s what I’ll do,” Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said during a news conference last week marking the 49th anniversary of the Roe decision.

“I’m proud to stand with so many Michiganders to protect the right to safe and legal abortion,” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer tweeted last week on the same day organizers of a ballot drive to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution cleared a procedural step. Over the weekend, Whitmer tweeted that the right to abortion “hangs by a thread” in the Supreme Court.

For their part, abortion opponents are undeniably upbeat as the Supreme Court decision nears. Thousands gathered on a bitterly cold day in Washington last week for the March for Life, expressing joy and optimism about the prospect of Roe being overturned.

But the political fallout from such a move could be volatile for both parties. A decision drastically reducing access to abortion could energize Democrats heading into the fall campaign.

The issue is already rising in priority for Democrats, according to a December poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The poll found that 13% of Democrats listed abortion or reproductive rights as an issue they want the federal government to address. That’s up from less than 1% of Democrats who named it as a priority for 2021 and 3% who listed it in 2020.

Lawson predicted a court ruling sharply restricting or ending a federal right to abortion would “drive anger and outrage and cause a realignment at the voting booth.”

There’s a risk for religious conservatives as well, who have devoted decades of work to the issue and formed an unlikely alliance with Donald Trump to achieve their goals. The thrice-married former president who once expressed support for abortion rights ultimately named three justices to the Supreme Court, dramatically reshaping it to threaten Roe.

But if those justices fall short of overturning that decision or agree to some sort of compromise, conservatives could be deeply disappointed and feel less interested in participating in the midterm elections. The GOP has been stung before, notably when Republican-appointed Chief Justice John Roberts helped uphold President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, another issue that had galvanized the right.

But for now, opponents say they’re buoyed by a sense of momentum.


“It’s different now,” Dannenfelser said.

Beaumont reported from Des Moines, Iowa. Associated Press writers Mark Sherman in Washington and Scott Bauer in Madison, Wis., contributed to this report.

A+
a-

In The News

Health

Voting

Supreme Court

Search for Supreme Court Leaker Falls to Former Army Colonel

WASHINGTON (AP) — When Gail Curley began her job as Marshal of the U.S. Supreme Court less than a year... Read More

WASHINGTON (AP) — When Gail Curley began her job as Marshal of the U.S. Supreme Court less than a year ago, she would have expected to work mostly behind the scenes: overseeing the court's police force and the operations of the marble-columned building where the justices... Read More

May 18, 2022
by Tom Ramstack
A Potential Federal Law on Abortion Divides Witnesses Before Congress

WASHINGTON — Abortion supporters and detractors made impassioned pleas before a congressional committee Wednesday while invoking constitutional rights or Biblical... Read More

WASHINGTON — Abortion supporters and detractors made impassioned pleas before a congressional committee Wednesday while invoking constitutional rights or Biblical teachings. The House Judiciary Committee is considering one of several proposals in Congress on whether to enact a federal law to guarantee women’s rights to abortion.... Read More

May 16, 2022
by Dan McCue
Sen. Cruz Victorious in Campaign Finance Case

WASHINGTON  —  Sen. Ted Cruz. R-Texas, has prevailed in his Supreme Court challenge to a provision of federal campaign law,... Read More

WASHINGTON  —  Sen. Ted Cruz. R-Texas, has prevailed in his Supreme Court challenge to a provision of federal campaign law, but in dissent at least one justice believes the ruling "can only bring this country's political system into further disrepute." On its face, the underlying case... Read More

May 11, 2022
by Dan McCue
If Roe Falls, What Civil Rights Precedents Might Be Next?

WASHINGTON — James Obergefell, who was in the nation’s capital this week to attend a fundraiser and visit with friends,... Read More

WASHINGTON — James Obergefell, who was in the nation’s capital this week to attend a fundraiser and visit with friends, wears the mantle of a civil rights icon lightly. Warm, often funny, and intelligent, the plaintiff in Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark civil rights case in... Read More

May 9, 2022
by Tom Ramstack
Alleged Judicial Activism in Abortion Case Renews Calls for Supreme Court Reform

WASHINGTON — The draft of a Supreme Court ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade that was leaked to the media... Read More

WASHINGTON — The draft of a Supreme Court ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade that was leaked to the media last week is renewing calls in Congress to expand the number of justices. Democrats behind the proposal say the Supreme Court move to eliminate a federal... Read More

May 6, 2022
by Dan McCue
Could the Potential Decision on Roe Pose Threat to Interracial Marriage Precedent?

WASHINGTON — As talk about the possible collateral effect of the Supreme Court potentially overturning Roe v. Wade continues to... Read More

WASHINGTON — As talk about the possible collateral effect of the Supreme Court potentially overturning Roe v. Wade continues to roil Washington, The Well News reached out to attorney Philip Hirschkop to ask what impact that might have on the standing of his landmark civil rights... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top