In the nearly two months since a conservative majority of the Supreme Court has signaled openness to dramatically new restrictions on abortion, money has poured into the political fundraising arm of the anti-abortion group Susan B.
According to data shared with the Associated Press, the organization achieved $20 million in financial contributions, five times more than at the start of the election year in its 30-year history. Before the recent surge, the group had signed off on its biggest political budget to date, $72 million, for 2022. This is more than the $20 million spent in 2020, a year that included the presidential election.
Cash Pile virtually guarantees that the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling, anticipated in the summer, has become one of the most pressing animating issues in the United States. Abortion opponents say they will pump their newfound resources into November’s elections.
Once the decision is issued, “a lot of attention will be given to all state and midterm elections,” said Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Danenfelser.
The Supreme Court is considering a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks. If the law is upheld, anti-abortion activists said most of the attention would shift to Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Kansas. These are states that have Republican legislatures but Democrats in governorships, each up for election in November.
If the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade ruling that women have a constitutional right to abortion, governors in Michigan and Wisconsin would be powerless to overturn restrictions in their states that were already in place prior to the 1973 ruling.
But these governors will be the only hindrance to new measures passed by GOP legislatures, including an outright ban on the process.
“The Supreme Court’s ruling is really just the beginning of the work,” said Terry Schilling, president of the Socially Conservative American Principles Project. “Groups are really well connected with state leaders and are investing in campaigns at the local level in these swing states, trying to win control in divided governments.”
Abortion rights advocates, already feeling alarmed at the prospect of defeat in the Supreme Court, know full well how important the governor’s race can be to their cause.
“In fact, in many states the governor is going to be our backstop,” said Jenny Lawson, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s vice president of organizing and election campaigns. “As decisions come down to the states, it’s the governors who can protect access.”
She declined to specify how much money the group was spending to support candidates who support abortion rights.
Some of the Democratic governors are increasingly highlighting their commitment to protecting some form of access to re-election.
“And as long as I’m governor, that’s what I’ll do,” Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers said during a news conference last week marking the 49th anniversary of Rowe’s decision.
“I am proud to stand with so many Michigans to defend the right to safe and legal abortion,” Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer tweeted on the same day last week. Organizers of a ballot campaign approved a procedural move to ensure abortion rights enshrined in the state’s constitution. Over the weekend, Whitmer tweeted that abortion rights were “hanging by a thread” in the Supreme Court.
For their part, anti-abortion anti-abortion is undeniably upbeat as the Supreme Court ruling nears. thousands gathered On a cold winter day in Washington last week for March for Life, Roe expressed happiness and optimism about the prospect of turning back.
But the political fallout from such a move could be destabilizing for both sides. A decision to significantly reduce access to abortion could drive Democrats into the fall campaign.
The issue is already growing in priority for Democrats.According to a December survey by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The poll found that 13% of Democrats listed abortion or reproductive rights as an issue they want the federal government to address. That’s from less than 1% of Democrats who designated it as a priority for 2021 and 3% who listed it in 2020.
Lawson predicted that a court swiftly restricting or abolishing the federal right to abortion “would fuel anger and outrage and cause a reappraisal at the voting booth.”
There is also a risk for religious conservatives, who have worked on the issue for decades and formed an unlikely alliance with Donald Trump to achieve their goals. The three-time former president, who once expressed support for abortion rights, eventually named three justices to the Supreme Court, dramatically reshaping it to threaten Roe.
But if those judges fail to overturn that ruling or agree to some sort of settlement, conservatives may become deeply disappointed and less interested in running for midterm elections. The GOP has staggered before, especially when Republican-appointed Chief Justice John Roberts helped uphold President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, another issue that galvanized the right.
But for now, opponents say they are buoyed by the feeling of speed.
“It’s different now,” Dannfelser said.
Beaumont reported from Des Moines, Iowa. Associated Press writers Mark Sherman in Washington and Scott Bauer in Madison, Wis., contributed to this report.