Yardley, Pennsylvania ( Associated Press) — Shock quickly turned to sadness for Victoria Lowe.
A 37-year-old lawyer who works outside a cafe in suburban Bucks County, Pennsylvania, said she couldn’t believe the Supreme Court was abolished. constitutional right to abortion that women had her whole life. She began to cry.
“I don’t understand how they could come to that conclusion,” she said.
Immediately after one of the most consistent Supreme Court rulings, it was too early to know how much the political landscape had changed. But in this politically competitive corner of one of the US’s most important swing states, embattled Democrats hope to use the emotions of women like Lowe to unseat what has otherwise been a brutal election year. Environment.
For most of the year, the threat to abortion rights seemed somewhat theoretical, overshadowed by more tangible economic concerns, such as inflation and rising gas prices. But the Supreme Court ruling ensures that abortion will become a central issue in US politics for the foreseeable future.
This is especially true when restrictions come into play. Pregnant women considering abortion have already faced a near-total ban in Oklahoma and a ban about six weeks later in Texas. Clinics in at least eight other states — Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, South Dakota, Wisconsin and West Virginia — have stopped performing abortions since Friday’s ruling.
In Pennsylvania, the future of the procedure may depend on the November election. For now, women here will still have access to abortions up to 24 weeks. However, Republicans are ready to change state law if they retain control of the legislature and seize the governorship in November. Doug Mastriano, the Republican candidate for governor, opposes abortion, except in cases of rape, incest, or the life of the mother.
Initially, Democrats in Pennsylvania and beyond seemed to be uniting around their collective outrage, fear, and sadness.
They planned mass protests. From the White House on Friday, President Joe Biden urged protesters to keep the peace, even calling the court’s decision “wrong, extreme and out of touch with reality.”
The Democratic president also urged voters to make their voices heard this fall: “Roe is on the ballot.”
At the same time, members of the Democratic National Committee raised the possibility of finding a silver lining in the Supreme Court’s historic punch in the gut.
“The Democrats have a real opportunity right now to rein in this anger, to rein in the sadness,” Democratic strategist Mo Elleithy said at a DNC subcommittee meeting. “We’re laying the groundwork for Democrats to stay in the White House so that next time there’s an empty seat on the bench, on the federal bench, anywhere, and we have a Democratic president making that appointment.”
Democratic groups have moved to deploy resources to warn of what is at stake in this year’s midterm elections. NARAL Freedom Fund and Priorities USA Action immediately spent $300,000 on digital ads.
Republicans, for their part, have been keen to play down their excitement about winning the decades-long fight against abortion rights, realizing that the decision could energize the Democratic base, especially suburban women. Prior to Friday’s decision, Democrats close to the White House were increasingly pessimistic about the party’s chances of winning a seat in the House or Senate in November.
Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life, said she expects anti-abortion opponents to grow in numbers this fall, even if Democrats may be motivated by Friday’s decision.
She called it “a great day for unborn babies and mothers”. “Just because it was a so-called right for 50 years doesn’t mean it was right,” Tobias said.
The poll shows that relatively few Americans wanted Roe’s ouster.
In 2020, Associated Press VoteCast found that 69% of presidential voters said the Supreme Court should uphold Roe v. Wade. However, recent polls tend to show that other issues above abortion are the most important issues facing the country.
According to a December poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 13% of Democrats mentioned abortion or reproductive rights as one of the issues they want the federal government to address in 2022. This is compared to less than 1% of Democrats who named it a priority for 2021 and 3% who indicated it in 2020.
Other issues such as the economy, COVID-19, health care and gun control have become more of a priority for Democrats in the poll. But the exponential rise in the percentage of reproductive rights mentioned as a key issue suggests the issue resonated with Democrats as the Supreme Court considered overturning Roe’s ruling.
The fight for abortion rights — and the political implications that come with it — is now being shifted to the states.
Thirteen dark red states have so-called “trigger laws” that now ban abortion almost immediately, but the future of abortion access is less certain in several other more moderate states with Republican-controlled legislatures: Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, among Ohio, Texas, and Wisconsin.
In many cases, GOP legislatures have already approved restrictive abortion laws, including bills on so-called “heartbeats.” this will ban abortions before most women know they are pregnant. Some laws are in the process of being considered in the courts, while others have not yet passed through the Republican legislatures. Now that Rowe has fallen, such laws — or more restrictive bans — could only be stopped by a Democratic governor’s veto or a Democratic-backed lawsuit, if at all.
Some states, including Michigan, Wisconsin and Texas, have decade-long abortion bans that predate Row, which now appear to take effect unless there is another appeal in their state courts.
Despite Democrats’ initial hope that the unrest will motivate their base, some of those at the forefront of the party’s intense struggle over the medium term aren’t so sure.
Jamie Perrapato, executive director of pro-democracy group Turn PA Blue, notes that Democrats achieved a record turnout in Pennsylvania last year. But so did the Republicans, who eventually dominated racing across the state.
“I’m sick. I hope this wakes people up. I hope they understand that although it’s terrible, you can’t hide your head in the sand,” Perrapato said. “But I don’t know. It’s a really dark time.”
Back in Bucks County, Lowe said she was voting Democratic and planned to vote in November even before Friday’s decision. The right to abortion is her main issue, even despite the jumps in inflation.
“I would say that this is more important to me than the issue of gas,” she said. “It’s such a personal, fundamental human right that it’s more important than the economy.”
Margarethe Petsalla-Granlund, 56, sitting next to Lowe in a cafe, also suffocated when asked about the Supreme Court’s decision. Though they were strangers, Lowe offered her a tissue and the women wiped their eyes together.
Petsalla-Granlund was especially concerned about her 15-year-old daughter. “She will grow up in a completely different situation than me and I expected her to be,” she said.
Such concerns were not limited to Democrats.
Nearby, 75-year-old Karen Sloan smoked a cigarette outside a cafe in the city of Bristol on the Delaware River. A self-described Republican who supports abortion rights, she said Friday’s decision upset her.
“I just can’t believe it,” Sloan said. “I am not saying that it is right to take human life. But there are things that need to be done.”
She said she would have voted in November before the decision was made, but now she plans to support candidates who support abortion rights. For her, the problem is more important than high gas prices and inflation.
“You’re taking away someone’s rights, and that’s more important to me,” Sloan said. “It’s a big deal for women in the United States.”
Associated Press writers Meg Kinnard in Columbia, SC; Mark Levy in Harrisburg; and Hannah Fingerhut of Washington contributed.