Will the prospect of overturning Roe have a major impact on the coming election? | News

On May 3, less than 24 hours after news that the United States Supreme Court could overturn abortion rights, a sole security guard walked the perimeter of the Planned Parenthood facility off Centennial Boulevard.

There were no protesters, save for two “regulars” at the entrance, handing out business cards and promising free pregnancy tests. Word of the earth-shattering idea that abortion would return to back alleys and desperate women wielding wire hangers apparently hadn’t yet registered with the Colorado Springs community.

The security guard, though, wasn’t holding his breath. He was keeping a watchful eye, he said.

But the absence of a protest crowd at the clinic could signal that Democrats won’t gain the traction they’re hoping for from the leaked decision, political admit observers say, although they the jury is still out.

There was no shortage of reaction elsewhere though, as anti- and pro-choice forces vied for who could be the loudest and most strident in sharing their opinions on potential outcomes of striking down Roe v. Wadethe decision that secured abortion as a constitutional right in 1973.

Rights will be denied, the left declared. Lives will be saved, the right proclaimed, although Republicans focused more on who leaked the draft decision than the substance of it.

Without evidence, they blamed Democrats for undercutting security of the Supreme Court by leaking Justice Samuel Alito’s decision, which not only set aside Roe, but used language that President Joe Biden said bodes ill for same-sex marriage rights, the right to use contraception and a host of other constitutional guarantees. See “What comes next.”

Both parties put out news releases citing polls showing most Americans oppose unrestricted abortion (GOP) and that most Americans support a woman’s right to choose (Democrats).

But since the final Supreme Court decision isn’t due until June or July, all the noise could quiet down significantly in coming weeks and might not get traction in the November midterm elections where Democrats need help in maintaining control of the House and Senate in the face of inflation, supply-chain issues and rising interest rates.

While a CNN analysis called the leaked decision “exactly what Democrats need to solve their passion problem heading into the midterm elections,” others doubt the issue has staying power.

As independent political commentator Eric Sondermann says, the abortion decision might partially change the November election dynamic but it won’t overwhelm it.

“The only issue is whether it’s a wave or a tsunami [against Democrats],” he says.

Others heartily disagree.

Both parties are using polls to demonstrate that public sentiment is on their side.

The GOP cites a poll in January 2022 conducted by Marist College Institute for Public Opinion at Marist College, founded by Catholics, and the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic service organization. It shows 71 percent of Americans favor restrictions on abortion, such as allowing it only within the first three months of pregnancy and only for cases of rape, incest and to save the mother’s life.

An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll conducted in June 2021 found that 65 percent of respondents said abortion should usually be illegal in the second trimester, and 80 percent opposed it in the third trimester.

Conversely, Democrats cite a poll conducted in mid-2021 by Quinnipiac University that found 63 percent of registered voters said abortion should be legal in all (32 percent) or most (31 percent) cases, the highest support in the 18 years it’s that question.

More recently, a CNN poll in January reported that 69 percent of Americans were opposed to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

Even the mystery of who leaked Alito’s version of the decision in the Mississippi law case that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, which could lead to overturning Roe, has taken on a partisan slant. Some say a conservative leaked it to cement right-leaning justices’ opinions to overturn Roewhile others suggest a liberal clerk did so to stir outrage that would cause conservative justices to shy from snatching away women’s right to choose.

Josh Dunn, political science professor and director of UCCS’ Center for the Study of Government and the Individual, thinks the guilty party is someone on the left who’s upset with the conservative imbalance on the court and the direction it’s going.

While protests supporting abortion rights were staged the day after the leaked document, it’s hard to know whether any Supreme Court decision regarding abortion limits or rights will translate into election results months from now.

Washington Post Columnist Megan McArdle took a closer look at polling, which led her to conclude that a minority of both men (29 percent) and women (36 percent) say abortion should be legal under any circumstances, according to annual Gallup polling that spans 46 years.

“Basically, large majorities think abortion should be legal for ‘rape, incest, and life of the mother’ type exceptions, plus severe fetal defects,” she wrote in a tweet. “Only a minority of Americans think abortions should be obtainable in order to avoid the major life disruption of a healthy pregnancy.”

That’s key to understanding whether the overturning of abortion rights would signal a doom for GOP candidates at the ballot box. McArdle says the life disruption reason for abortion is what “the upper middle class women” think about as they infuse energy and donations into pro-choice activism. They assume overturning Roe will cause others to “rise up and revolt” against Republicans. But most people don’t understand the Roe decision, she says.

“Thus,” she writes, “I’m skeptical about … the coming electoral bloodbath for the GOP.”

Dunn echoes her skepticism, saying via email, “Voters for whom it is a significant issue were already likely to vote. The fundamental issues that usually drive elections, in particular the economy, are still likely to be most important in November. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be some races where this decision (again, if it, in fact, does end up being the decision) ends up changing the outcome.”


Protesters gather in Denver over Roe v. Wade.

Such predictions haven’t discouraged Democrats from seizing on the issue and mounting an effort to codify abortion rights.

An early cosponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act, Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colorado) helped pass the bill in the House on Sept. 24 last year.

“The SCOTUS draft opinion is deeply disturbing,” Crow said in a statement. “Overturning Roe It would erase decades of progress and endanger the health, freedom, & opportunity of millions of Americans. The Senate must pass the Women’s Health Protection Act without delay to preserve the right to safe, legal abortions.”

But as political observers say, the bill’s chances are slim to none, considering 60 votes are required in the Senate, which is equally split by party. Only dumping the filibuster would change that, and Democrat Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona told reporters May 4 that they still support maintaining the filibuster.

Game over.

Not quite, says Floyd Ciruli, director of the Crossley Center for Public Opinion Research at Denver University.

Calling the leaked decision “a bombshell,” Ciruli notes it’s “definitely having a big impact right this minute.”

Pro-choice forces are organizing and fundraising, he said, but will it last until November?

“It certainly has the potential to,” he says in an interview. “Even the Republican party is divided on this issue, with a third of moderate Republicans, suburban women, not nearly as anti-abortion…. If Alito’s position stands, this is a pretty straightforward ban.”

In a “terrible year” for Democrats due to economic woes, in part, spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, crime and immigration issues, Ciruli says overwhelming support among voters to keep Roe in place gives Democrats a coalescing issue they need.

“The group they’re worried about are young voters, who have shown low interest in this particular midterm [election],” he says.

The point to drive home, he says, is “they’re taking something away from us.” While voters can be blasé about more daycare funding or a robust jobs report, the idea of ​​losing something “can really fire them up.”

One thing that bolsters Ciruli’s belief that the abortion issue has endurance is that “it’s certainly off the blocks very quickly” and Democrats can now seize even more on the bogeyman of the Trump-McConnell Supreme Court.

He’s also quick to point out how women reacted to Trump’s inauguration.

“Women marched in the streets,” he says. “You had not seen that. So one of my indicators [is], we are going to see grassroots support, fundraising, possible actual events. Note how quickly Democrats moved to hold an event at the Capitol.”

Within a day, Democrat incumbents were underscoring Republicans’ opposition to abortion in campaign materials.

Rick Ritter, a longtime political strategist in Colorado, says the amount of enthusiasm for maintaining abortion rights depends on how the issue is framed. Given that 52 percent of those who vote in an off-year election in Colorado are over age 50, and 48 percent of those who are men, there might be a significant segment of voters who don’t see the issue as important to them.

However, if the issue is presented as government regulating private activity, then more people could view overturning Roe as an intervention in private life, which affects everyone, he says.

“In a way, part of the challenge will be for those who are pro-choice to create a dynamic messaging structure so that voters understand it’s not just about abortion; it’s going to be about privacy rights,” he says in an interview. “Then you’re going to be able to expand the appeal and have a major impact.”

Some Colorado Springs residents are already motivated. About 50 people gathered May 4 at All Souls Unitarian Church to make a game plan for if or when Roe is overturned.

Jane Ard Smith, who organized the event, said she was “horrified, scared, angry” over the draft decision.

Kiera Hatton Sena, with Cobalt Abortion Fund, which helps women access abortion, spoke about her decision not to have an abortion, but said that it was her choice. She urged people to hold house parties, help raise money and vote. She also dispelled some misconceptions about abortion, saying most people who have abortions already have a child and most who have an abortion go on to have more children.

She also urged pro-choice voters to “hold our ground in Colorado,” where abortion was codified in state law just last month.

That includes electing pro-choice candidates, including Attorney General Phil Weiser, she said.

Pro-choice advocate Candace Woods outlined various support groups for women seeking to exercise their reproductive rights, including those that help fund travel and food. Abortionfinder.org allows women to find a clinic closest to them, though multiple states have already adopted laws that will ban abortion if Roe is overturned.

That will make Colorado an island, Cobalt president Karen Middleton told Colorado Public Radio, noting that women from Texas are already streaming to Colorado for abortions after that state adopted a ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. Those numbers will rise, she predicted.

That demonstrates how every race for office at any level means something, Rep. Crow said in a statement to the Indy.

“The threat to abortion rights underscores just how high the stakes are in every election,” he said. “The candidates we vote for — from the top to the bottom of the ballot — impact our lives, freedom, and privacy…. [I]t’s on all of us as American citizens to get engaged and participate in the self-determination of our democracy.”


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