House Democrats are preparing to use abortion rights as heavy ammunition against Republicans ahead of a tough election season that could cost them control of the lower house.
Part of the strategy will be to flip the script on traditional GOP arguments, with a message that it’s the Democrats who defend freedom, advocate for limited government and respect individual rights when it comes to abortion access. and an impending Supreme Court ruling that many expect will drastically curtail constitutional law.
“That’s about how badly people want control of government,” said Rep. Ro Khanna, Democrat of California. “We are a party that stands for freedom and the freedom to be free from government control over basic decisions about a person’s family and own body.”
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) on Wednesday hosted several abortion rights groups, including Planned Parenthood, Emily’s List and NARAL, to provide information on how to run successful abortion campaigns in swing districts. Republicans need a net gain of just five seats to retake the House.
The planning moves come as the Supreme Court prepares to issue its decision on a case that is expected to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that granted women the right to terminate a pregnancy.
The House Democrats’ campaign arm has posed key questions to put the GOP on the defensive in the debate, including whether it supports overturning Roe v. Wade; to what extent they want to see restrictions on abortions; their response to polls that show that the majority of the public supports some access to abortion; and their message to women who fear losing the opportunity to have an abortion.
“House Republicans are embarking on a dangerous and retrograde crusade to wrest women’s freedoms and threaten the livelihoods of millions of women and families. Voters will not accept the extremist and harmful reality that Republicans are fighting for,” said DCCC spokesperson Nebeyatt Betre.
Representative Deborah Ross, Democrat of North Carolina, said she had already seen voters galvanized by the impending High Court ruling. The party, she said, needs to let the electorate know that Democrats are pro-women.
“Our job is to assure the women of this country that we are on their side, we trust them to make the most important health decisions with their families,” Ms. Ross said.
Democrats hope that argument will boost their chances of retaining their narrow majority in November. Members also tied Republicans to tough abortion laws already passed in a number of conservative states that have sought to sharply restrict abortion rights and access ahead of the High Court ruling. .
Representative Anna Eshoo, Democrat of California, said women would be under constant attack under a GOP-dominated Congress.
“It’s extreme,” Ms Eshoo said. “Are the women going to be arrested because so many states are about to enact their ‘trigger’ laws? Are women going to be arrested for crossing state lines? Will neighbors and family members be encouraged to report someone because they think they are going to have an abortion? It’s so chaotic.
Courting female voters
Ms Eshoo added that beyond abortion, issues such as access to contraception and birth control also provide political opportunity for women voters.
“What strikes me the most is that this will be the first time in the history of our country that the Supreme Court of the United States has taken away rights,” Ms. Eshoo said.
Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez, a Democrat from New Mexico who spoke at the caucus meeting on behalf of the Hispanic caucus, said she’s already seen an increase in “health care refugees” entering her State from Texas, after authorities in Texas decided to ban most abortions as early as the sixth week of pregnancy.
“We are fighting against letting the government come into a doctor’s office to decide what a woman should do,” Ms Leger Fernandez said. “We are fighting against denying Latinas and women of color the kind of access they need because they may not have the money to go to a state like New Mexico. which would give them access.”
Ms. Leger Fernandez said abortion could also be an issue mobilizing Hispanic voters in a year when Republicans seek to make inroads into those communities.
In recent years, congressional Democrats have become almost uniformly pro-abortion rights supporters, with rare exceptions like Representative Henry Cuellar of Texas, who narrowly won his primary election against a liberal challenger who attacked for his pro-life views.
On the other hand, House Republicans used the issue to target their broad list of vulnerable Democrats in November as advocates for late-term and so-called partial-birth abortions.
Following the leak of a Supreme Court draft opinion overturning Roe last month, GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy defended the decision, saying House Republicans were committed to ” safeguard the sanctity of life”.
Rep. Kat Cammack, a Republican from Florida and the GOP’s youngest woman in Congress, said the Democrats’ focus on abortion indicates the party is out of touch with voters more concerned about inflation and the US. economy.
“When I talk to my peer group, they’re all on the pro-life bandwagon,” Ms Cammack said. “We’ll be the generation that puts an end to Roe v. Wade, and when you think about how this all plays out, you can’t have America with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, if you don’t ‘re not ready to defend life.”
A May Gallup poll found that most Americans have become more pro-choice on abortion since the Supreme Court’s draft opinion leaked last month.
The survey, conducted between May 2 and May 22, found that 58% of people believe Roe v. Wade is expected to stay, while only 35% said he should be scrapped. The poll had a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.