• September 3, 2021

What the Texas Abortion Law Means for Midterm Elections

Most Democrats do not approve of the new abortion ban in Texas. But they hope it will help increase voter enthusiasm.

Protesters hold placards at a protest outside the Texas State Capitol (Sergio Flores / Getty)

The new Texas law prohibiting abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, and which the Supreme Court has so far refused to block, is a massive blow to abortion rights in America. But Democrats, who tend to support abortion access, are not all pessimistic about the measure. The thinking of some in the party is this: the abortion ban is terrible for women, but it is excellent for arousing the enthusiasm of voters.

Democrats need help. Republicans generally run to the polls much more consistently in out-of-year elections, and next year, the main target of the ire of Democratic voters, Donald Trump, will not be on the ballot. Democrats have spent the last few months trying to decide how to get their voters’ attention, and the party appears to have settled on a strategy of telling voters that Republicans are all extremists. They see the Texas abortion law as an example they can follow. “When you have Joe Biden in the White House and a Democratic Congress, you feel a little calmer than in the last four years. You think you can look Bachelor in Paradise in peace, ”Lanae Erickson, vice chair of the Third Way moderated think tank, told me. “But this shows what is really at stake.”

Democrats have public opinion on their side: Abortion bans are not very popular in any state, and while Texas law is not a total ban, it comes close and will allow Democrats to paint Republicans as hardliners out there. contact with public opinion. This problem could very well be the turning point in districts that are very suburban, with many educated women. “Ultimately, it is possible that the Democrats are going to break their midterm curse,” progressive pollster Sean McElwee told me. McElwee says his firm, Data for Progress, has already seen an increase in its own small dollar donations following the passage of the Texas law. Texas law allows private citizens to sue abortion providers and anyone else who “aids or encourages” an abortion, and expects that “each individual civil lawsuit will be a piece of content that will create a furor for collectors. of funds from Democratic small donors. “

Party leaders are telegraphing their desire for abortion to be front and center in the midterm elections. On Twitter, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Sean Patrick Maloney, promised that “we will fight from now until Election Day to make sure that House Republicans coming for reproductive rights lose their seats in 2022.” . The Senate Democratic Campaign Committee called the new law “a powerful reminder” of the importance of midterm elections.

Democrats have used the words of abortion advocates against him before and have achieved political success. Missouri Republican Todd Akin’s comments on rape and pregnancy led to his career downfall against Democrat Claire McCaskill in 2012. The same year, Indiana Republican Richard Mourdock lost his Senate race to Democrat Joe Donnelly. after she said that pregnancy from rape is something that “God wants[s] make it happen “.

Virginia, which holds its state election in November, will be the first test of whether Democrats in the post-Trump era are energized enough and whether Texas law helps them get voters to the polls. Gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe has issued a series of statements warning that a Texas-style law is in Virginia’s future if voters elect Republican Glenn Youngkin. Pro-abortion rights groups in the state have echoed that message. Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, told me that her group has seen an increase in Virginians signing up to be monthly donors and sponsoring their annual gala in the last 48 hours. Anti-abortion activists and candidates may also see an increase in interest in the coming weeks as the new Texas law increases the relevance of the issue among voters. But it’s easier to raise money and get noticed when voters feel like their side is losing. “I have not seen Texas law as a catalyst for many conversations,” Olivia Gans Turner, president of the Virginia Society for Human Life, told me. His group is still focused on reminding voters of the government of former Gov. Ralph Northam. 2019 Comments on Late Abortion.

Keene is confident that Texas law will “surprise [Virginians] awake, ”he said. “This could very well be the turning point of the elections.” He is confident because he has seen it before. In 2012, Republicans in Virginia passed a law requiring women to have an abdominal or transvaginal ultrasound before they could have an abortion. Democratic opposition was fierce, and the following year McAuliffe beat Republican Ken Cuccinelli in the gubernatorial race. “We were underway with a new, involved, vibrant and committed reproductive freedom movement in Virginia,” Keene said. “And that’s what started it.”

The original article said that Richard Mourdock said that rape is something “that God intends[s] make it happen. “In fact, Mourdock said that pregnancy by rape is something that” God wants[s] make it happen “.


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