Democrats predict abortion access, reproductive rights will be key issues in 2024
WASHINGTON — Democrats on Wednesday released new campaign ads and detailed how they plan to talk about abortion access and reproductive rights leading up to the 2024 elections.
Top Democratic campaign leaders said during a press call they expect the issues will be key to regaining control of the U.S. House and keeping control of the U.S. Senate, especially in swing states and purple districts.
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chair Gary Peters, a U.S. senator from Michigan, said the party believes abortion access will be a “fundamental issue” in deciding which candidates voters elect to the next Congress.
“I think it’s very clear to Americans, if you’re voting for a Republican for the United States Senate, they are likely to push a national abortion ban, which will have an impact on you regardless of the state in which you live,” Peters said.
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Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Suzan DelBene, a U.S. House member from Washington, said during the 2024 campaigns “the threat to abortion rights nationwide will be clearer than ever.”
“We saw in 2022 how much the issue of abortion access motivated Democrats, independents and moderate Republican voters,” DelBene said. “And this cycle we’ve already seen proof that abortion remains a galvanizing issue in battleground districts.”
Democrats’ ad buy
The Democratic National Committee on Wednesday announced a six-figure ad buy linked to the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last summer that overturned Roe v. Wade.
That opinion and the changes to reproductive rights at the state level since then will “highlight the stakes of the 2024 presidential election on reproductive freedom,” according to the DNC’s announcement.
The campaign will include billboards in Atlanta; Milwaukee; Phoenix; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Tallahassee, Florida. The DNC is also planning to run ads on social media in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Wisconsin.
While voters pick candidates based on several issues, with the economy usually leading the pack, Democrats said Wednesday they plan to keep a focus on reproductive rights throughout the next year-and-a-half.
DNC Chair Jaime Harrison said “the frame for this election” will be that the political parties have two distinct ways of looking toward the country’s future.
Democrats, he said, believe lawmakers should “protect the freedoms of the American people, that we should have more freedoms, more rights.”
The GOP, he argued, “is about ripping away the freedoms of the American people, going at the sacred liberties that we hold dear as Americans, all the things that make us so unique in terms of democracy across the globe.” Those include efforts to roll back voting rights, ban books, limit freedom of expression, determine who people love and eliminate reproductive rights, he said.
Attempts to pass legislation
Democrats in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday morning were also focused on reproductive rights, announcing they would try to pass four bills they argued Republicans should support.
The legislation would ensure the right to travel across state lines to access abortion, protect health care providers in states where abortion is legal from laws in other states, guarantee people the right to access birth control and boost privacy protections for online health and location data.
Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray said the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to end the nationwide, constitutional right to an abortion has led to a country where “Republican politicians have the final say in (women’s) health care decisions.”
“Doctors in some states are having to deny patients the life-saving care that they need, or risk being sent to jail,” Murray said. “Providers in states like mine are being pushed to the breaking point, trying to serve an influx of patients from out of state.”
Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin told the story of a woman in her home state who had to wait to receive medical care for a miscarriage until she got sick enough that doctors didn’t fear legal repercussions.
She also spoke about a woman who had to leave the state to access abortion, noting the state’s abortion law was written in 1849 and took effect again after the Dobbs decision last summer.
“Living under that draconian criminal ban has been nothing short of dire for Wisconsin families,” Baldwin said.
One woman, she said, didn’t receive medical care when her water broke at 17 weeks. Instead, she had to wait until her fever reached 101 degrees and she began showing signs of sepsis.
“Another Wisconsin couple, who I spoke with, were told that there were serious anomalies with the pregnancy at 13 weeks. But she was forced to stay pregnant with an unviable pregnancy and play travel agency and lawyer to try to figure out how to get the health care she needed out of state,” Baldwin said.
Another woman, Baldwin said, reported bleeding for 10 days after Emergency Department health care workers declined to help her following an incomplete miscarriage.
Survey of physicians
The Kaiser Family Foundation released a survey Wednesday detailing how the end of a fundamental right to abortion has affected health care for women throughout the country.
“While the majority of OBGYNs do not provide abortion services, most OBGYNs do provide miscarriage management using the same procedures and medications that are used for abortions,” the survey said. “Four in ten OBGYNs in states where abortion is illegal report constraints on their ability to manage miscarriages and pregnancy-related medical emergencies”
Six in 10 OBGYNs reported using mifepristone to manage miscarriages.
That drug is FDA approved for up to 10 weeks use. However, anti-abortion organizations have filed a lawsuit that could overturn its original approval 23 years ago.
The case is before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans after a federal judge in Texas sided with the anti-abortion organizations and stayed the pharmaceutical’s approval. The lawsuit is likely to go before the U.S. Supreme Court after the appeals court issues its ruling, which could happen any day.
Most of the nearly 600 doctors who participated in the survey also said “that pregnancy-related mortality and maternal health disparities have gotten worse as a result of the” Supreme Court’s ruling on abortion access last summer.