In the midst of a changing legal landscape on abortion, both sides seek a political advantage.

Michael Scherer

National political reporter covering campaigns, congress and the white house.

The right turn of the US Supreme Court has intensified the long battle for abortion, with activists from both sides competing to pbad new laws and capitalize on the issue of division before the 2020 elections.

In several states, abortion rights advocates have launched an aggressive campaign to shore up and expand guaranteed access to abortion in anticipation of adverse action by the court. At the same time, opponents of abortion are pushing hard restrictions on the procedure: possible test cases for the new conservative majority.

The theme is resonating on the national stage, too. Last week, Democrats targeted moderate Republicans in the Senate who voted to confirm Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, who is seen as a potential threat to the landmark Roe v. Sentence. Wade who established the right to abortion in 1973.

And Republicans, led by President Trump, have turned to efforts in New York and Virginia to expand access to late abortion, which remains highly unpopular among the majority of voters. In his State of the Union address, Trump compared his application for family leave with pay for parents to "link up with their newborn child" with abortion legislation, saying that "it would allow a baby to be pulled off the mother's womb moments before birth. "

The strategists of both parties are convinced that the problem will benefit them in the next campaigns for Congress and the White House.

"In many ways, both sides are playing at their base here," said Jim McLaughlin, a Republican pollster who worked on the president's 2016 campaign.

Anti-abortion activists march in front of the US Supreme Court building. UU During the March for Life in Washington in January. (Jose Luis Magana / AP)

The Republicans took over the late abortion after the controversial comments of the governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam (D), characterized by the Republicans as an endorsement of infanticide. Northam's office rejected that interpretation, but his Jan. 30 interview drew attention to the failed Virginia bill, which would have made it easier for women to obtain abortions until the time of delivery.

"The Democratic Party is at great risk if they continue to practice abortion because they can alienate male and female voters in the states in which President Obama won twice and President Trump won in 2016," said the House's principal advisor. Blanca, Kellyanne Conway. Who has worked for years to restrict abortion.

"In those states," he said, "someone who calls himself a pro-choice" may not be willing to accept a "definition of pro-choice that says it means that abortion is for anyone, at any time and in any place".

Democrats see danger for Republicans in the shifting Supreme Court, arguing that Kavanaugh's ascension will lead to new restrictions on abortion rights, even if the court does not completely nullify Roe v. Wade.

Last week, Kavanaugh voted. to allow a Louisiana law to be enforced, although the majority of the court blocked its implementation. Liberals quickly used the ruling to attack Republican senator Susan Collins of Maine, a supporter of abortion rights who voted to confirm Kavanaugh last fall.

"We believe that Kavanaugh's vote will not be forgotten soon. It was not just a moment in time, "said Brian Fallon, director of Demand Justice, which will launch a small digital advertising campaign against Collins this week, which also plans to hire field organizers in Maine and Colorado, changing states where Collins and Sen. Cory Gardner (R) will face voters in 2020.

"There are two full terms of the Supreme Court before the next election," Fallon said. "It's a long time for Kavanaugh to make them look stupid."

[Rulings on abortion, death penalty show the Supreme Court’s shifting allies]

The general view of Americans about abortion has changed little since the late 1970s, according to Gallup: about 29 percent of respondents say it should be legal in all circumstances, compared to 21 percent. About 18 percent say it should always be illegal, slightly below 22 percent.

But the changes between the voters in each political party have been crude. In 2018, almost half of Democrats, 46 percent, said abortion should be legal in all circumstances, compared with 19 percent in 1975. Only 11 percent of Republicans agree.

That polarization has led each party to adopt more absolute positions, even when the majority of voters continue somewhere in the middle. In August, a Washington Post-ABC poll found that 45 percent of respondents said the Supreme Court should not change the ability of Americans to have an abortion, while 30 percent said it should be more difficult.

Only 21 percent, one in five, said they wanted to see easier access to abortion. Late abortion is especially unpopular: in May 2018, Gallup discovered that 60 percent of Americans believe that abortion should be legal in the first trimester, but only 13 percent support terminations in the third trimester.

In New York, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo (D) recently signed a law allowing abortions after 24 weeks if a woman's "life or health" is in danger; Previously, the state allowed such abortions only to save a woman's life. The measure also decriminalized abortion by regulating the procedure according to the health code instead of the criminal code.

New Mexico, which has just elected a Democratic governor, and Rhode Island are considering similar legislation. In Virginia, a measure that would have allowed late abortion to preserve a woman's "mental health," among other changes, was presented to the committee.

The bills are part of a recent increase in legislation aimed at strengthening abortion rights, said Megan Donovan, policy badyst at the Guttmacher Institute. "The states are seeking to protect access to abortion, especially in the event that Roe v. Wade has been overturned and undermined," he said.

When asked about Virginia's measure, Northam said a baby born alive during an abortion attempt "would be resurrected if that's what the mother and family wanted," sparking an uproar that quickly threatened to engulf the children. Democrats in the Capitol.

"This just pours more fuel into the fire," said Mallory Quigley, spokeswoman for Susan B. Anthony's list, which deployed more than 1,000 anti-abortion writers to elect Republicans in 2018 Senate elections. "Absolutely, this is going to be something that we are going to take to the voters."

[Virginia’s abortion debate has complicated plans to expand access elsewhere]

White House aides recently discussed the advantage of forcing Democratic candidates to express their views on abortions at the end of pregnancy. They noted that Democrats chose not to make abortion a national issue in the congressional elections last year, even when they presented a record number of candidates and aggressively wooed voters.

"What makes it qualitatively different is that Democrats exaggerate their participation in late abortion," said Ralph Reed, president of the conservative Faith and Freedom Coalition. "The shake to the left under Trump has highlighted the true extreme position of the Democratic Party, namely abortion until the ninth month of pregnancy, in some cases until the moment of birth."

The activity in the courts is adding to the feeling of turmoil. The Supreme Court must still consider the merits of the Louisiana law, which was pbaded in 2014 but has never been fully implemented. Certainly, it would close most of the state's abortion clinics by requiring that doctors in those facilities have admission privileges in nearby hospitals.

In addition, the Supreme Court is considering whether to revise a 2016 Indiana law, signed by then-Governor Mike Pence (R) but never implemented, that prohibits women from choosing abortion when the fetus suffers from genetic abnormalities, such as Down's Syndrome. and requires the burial or cremation of the remains of an abortion.

On the other hand, 21 states have asked the court to contribute an Alabama 2016 law that prohibits a procedure known as dilation and evacuation, the main method to end pregnancies in the second trimester in the state.

"That's what the struggle really is: people trying to make it harder and harder for women to have an abortion," said Jennifer Dalven, director of the Reproductive Freedom Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. "It will make abortion illegal and illegal for thousands of women without the Court having ever voted to overtly overturn the Roe v. Wade case."

The Democrats plan to use the threat of legal action to put the Republicans in increasingly blue states on the defensive. Colorado Senator Cory Gardner, who voted for Kavanaugh and describes himself as "pro-life," had trouble with questions about abortion during his 2014 career when Democrats attacked him for having supported efforts to declare to the fetus a person entitled to legal rights: a Position that could completely prohibit abortion.

Gardner responded that her support amounted to a "statement" that signaled her opposition to abortion, and said she wanted to increase access to contraception.

During the debate about Kavanaugh's confirmation, Collins said that she was convinced that she would not nullify Roe v. Wade. Collins spokeswoman Annie Clark said the senator continues to believe that and that the Liberals are misinterpreting their vote last week on the Louisiana law, which, according to her, can not substantially restrict abortion.

What is clear, Clark said, is that "many of the critics of Judge Kavanaugh's dissenting opinion have not even read it."

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