The Fight for Abortion Rights Moves Down-Ballot
There are no satisfying or sufficient responses to the Supreme Court overturning Roe, but there ways to fight back at the state level
The news via Politico that the Supreme Court has voted to overturn Roe v. Wade. This is no surprise. Legal experts across the ideological spectrum predicted this outcome many months ago after the justices signaled their views during arguments in the case. Although the decision is predictable, it doesn’t mean that the outcome isn’t shocking and enraging.
No one has written more elegantly and persuasively about reproductive rights than Rebecca Traister. And her reaction says it all:
Overturning Roe is a legal and political earthquake that will put the health of millions of women at risk. A rigged Supreme Court installed by an extreme minority party just stuck its thumb in the eye of the 2/3rds of Americans who support Roe. There are no easy answers or quick fixes. No obvious response or place to channel one’s anger and sadness at this travesty. Some have suggested that this horrific decision will mobilize millions of voters and increase the odds that Democrats can hold on to our narrow majorities. It is — of course — way too early to say how the politics will turn out. And in the end, the politics are up to us. How we respond will determine the outcome. With that in mind, here are some very, very initial thoughts:
The Down-Ballot Impact
Senate Majority Leader Schumer responded to the news by announcing:
The Senate will hold a vote on legislation to codify the right to an abortion in law. This is not an abstract exercise. This is urgent. We will vote on protecting a woman’s right to choose, and every American is going to see which side every senator stands on.
I don’t have an objection to this move — passing the law would protect millions of women, but we must set our expectations to avoid repeating the failures of the voting rights fight. In addition to being subject to a filibuster, there are only 48 Democratic co-sponsors of the bill. Senators Joe Manchin and Bob Casey are the two holdouts. Per usual, the Senate may be a lost cause. This aggravating factor is yet another reason to double down on expanding our majority in 2022 by re-electing our incumbents and winning in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere.
However, the real battle to defend reproductive rights will happen at the state level. Abortion will become fully illegal in 13 states on the day the actual decision is released. It will remain legal in more than a dozen states where there are laws on the books protecting the right to choose. There is no law protecting or restricting abortion access in the states in gray in the below map.
Decisions in the governor and state legislative races in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Georgia, Arizona, Michigan and elsewhere will be key in determining the rights and freedoms of women in those states. There are many ways to make an impact in those campaigns. Here are a few:
Sign up to volunteer or contribute to the candidates and state parties in those and other states;
If you want to help individual women, here is a list of abortion funds to which you can contribute.
None of this is easy. I know it is far from satisfying. The fact that we have a Supreme Court majority installed by two Presidents who received fewer votes than their opponents is a symptom of a democracy that was broken long before Donald Trump waddled onto the scene. The effort to overturn Roe is part of an extreme agenda that includes banning books and attacking LGBTQ+ kids.
There was a dumb circular debate among Democrats about whether to engage in the “culture war” attacks from Republicans. That debate ended with the leak of this opinion.
We have no choice but to fight back. We have the moral and political high ground. It won’t be an easy fight, but it will be a righteous one.