A week after Justice Samuel Alito’s leaked draft opinion revealed that the Supreme Court is poised to upend abortion rights in the U.S., the legal and political ramifications are coming into focus.
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the legislative standard-bearer of the GOP, told USA Today that if his party took control of Congress, they might consider pursuing a national ban on abortion.
“If the leaked opinion became the final opinion, legislative bodies — not only at the state level but at the federal level — could certainly legislate in that area,” he said, adding “I don’t think it’s much of a secret where Senate Republicans stand on that issue.”
McConnell’s comments about outlawing abortion on the federal level contradict the notion that the GOP wants individuals states to adopt their own abortion laws. Democrats have seized on that perceived overreach.
A new digital ad from New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat who is in one of the closest races of the 2022 midterms, criticizes “McConnell’s decade-long crusade to criminalize abortion.”
“The Republican primary candidates [in New Hampshire’s Senate race] have spent their careers proving that they would be in lockstep with McConnell’s agenda of criminalizing abortion and punishing women,” Hassan’s campaign said in a statement.
Hassan’s line of attack mirrors how Democrats are likely going to use the abortion issue to try to gain the upper hand in November’s battle for control of Congress. Legal abortion is popular in the U.S. and many political observers believe the GOP will imperil its chances of winning either chamber if they enthusiastically celebrate the end of Roe v. Wade or attempt to rollback reproductive rights that have been on the books for generations.
NPR reports on how abortion changes the midterms:
With six months to go until November’s midterms, key components of the broad, multigenerational coalition of voters that powered Democratic victories in 2018 and 2020 are showing signs of dampened enthusiasm. Some party leaders hope that the prospect of a Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade could reenergize them.
“Voters have struggled with a believability gap, with majorities noting that they did not believe Roe was truly at risk,” said Laphonza Butler, the head of EMILY’s List, a national group that backs women candidates who support abortion rights. “Now that the Supreme Court’s pending decision to overturn Roe all together has leaked, we believe voters are galvanized to take action.”
Bloomberg reports on a similar sentiment emerging at the White House:
Top Biden advisers say that since the leak of the court’s draft Roe decision, they have seen a surge in engagement, anger and enthusiasm from their base voters. Polls have previously shown Republicans more eager to vote in November, following relentless attacks on Biden and his party over inflation, immigration, crime and the pandemic.
But with fresh surveys showing broad support among women and young people for abortion rights, the draft ruling could “be a jolt out of complacency and malaise” for key segments of the electorate, said Democratic pollster Anna Greenberg, whose current clients include vulnerable Arizona Senator Mark Kelly.
Democrats raised $12 million in the day after news broke about the draft opinion, according to ActBlue, which processes online donations for Democratic-aligned candidates and groups.
Nicole Hensel, the executive director of the youth-focused group New Era Colorado, told NPR that in order to inspire their base, Democrats must show results before November.
“If we want young people to mobilize for the midterms, then politicians can’t pay lip service to these issues. They need to show that they’re willing to take bold action,” she said.
To that end, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is expected to bring a bill to the Senate floor on Wednesday that would protect abortion rights nationwide. But Republicans – including pro-choice moderates like Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski – say the bill goes too far. Collins, in particular, is concerned that it would force Catholic hospitals to perform the procedure.
Without bipartisan support, the abortion bill has no chance of surviving a filibuster.