One of the most powerful pro-life organizations in the country is marshaling all its resources to combat abortion extremism heading into the 2022 midterm elections — and its leaders predict that the life issue will be a much bigger deal than expected.
“The context is historic,” Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a phone interview with The Daily Wire.
The midterm elections fall in the shadow of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court case involving a 2018 Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks, addressing whether bans on abortion before fetal viability are constitutional.
It directly challenges the Supreme Court’s monumental Roe v. Wade decision. Should Roe v. Wade be overturned, the power to decide abortion laws would be returned to the states.
“We’re looking at a decision that’s been in the making for almost 50 years that has only grown, not diminished over time,” Dannenfelser said. “And it’s possible that it’s culminating this summer right before midterms, at a moment where the Republican Party has come very far in terms of its embrace of the issue.”
‘Vulnerable Pro-Abortion Senators’
This will be the first time in 50 years where the consequences of voting for a pro-abortion politician are real rather than theoretical, Dannenfelser said, noting that the results of the 2022 midterm elections will predict which states pass aggressive pro-life laws, and which don’t.
To that end, from now until November, the SBA List is launching campaigns across the country to “expose the extremism of vulnerable pro-abortion Senators.”
The pro-life organization boasts of a massive $72 million 2022 election cycle budget — and it is zeroing in on Sen. Mark Kelly, targeting the Arizona Democrat with a $1 million ad campaign highlighting Kelly’s abortion stances.
“That’s very targeted,” Dannenfelser said. Kelly did not immediately respond to The Daily Wire’s request for comment.
SBA List’s campaign centers around Kelly’s vote for the radically expansive Women’s Health Protection Act, legislation bolstered by President Joe Biden’s administration.
SBA List calls it the “Abortion on Demand Until Birth Act,” as the legislation prohibits governmental restrictions on abortion, specifically banning the government from limiting an abortion provider’s ability to prescribe abortion drugs and offer abortions.
It does not specify any point at which abortion may be restricted.
The Women’s Health Protection Act would also prohibit the government from mandating that abortion providers provide “unnecessary medical procedures” or “medically inaccurate information” — such as requiring a doctor to show a woman an ultrasound or her unborn baby or tell a woman that she can use “abortion pill reversal” drugs if she changes her mind after the abortion.
Arizonans Oppose Abortion Legislation — When They Understand It
SBA List’s campaign against Kelly is accompanied by polling conducted by CRC Research showing that more than half of registered Arizona voters oppose the Women’s Health Protection Act after learning that the legislation entails.
That polling also found that 56% of independent voters and 27% of Democratic voters were less likely to vote for Kelly after being told that he believes taxpayers should fund abortions up until birth.
And more than half (59%) of Arizona voters believe that the state should limit abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy (a measure which the Arizona legislature is currently debating), according to the poll.
Only 27% of Arizona voters believe the state should allow abortion up until birth, according to the poll, conducted both online and over the phone between February 22 and February 25 on behalf of the Susan B. Anthony List with a margin of error of ± 3.7%.
“We could have gone after Warnock,” Dannenfelser said of Democratic Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock. “I think with him, we’re already several strides ahead. We understand, and a lot of people understand [his abortion record]. But the education on so many like Mark Kelly is buried.”
Though polling shows that Americans are on board with Roe v. Wade, the vast majority of Americans don’t understand what the Supreme Court decision actually means, Dannenfelser said.
“Every time we polled this throughout the years, they like Roe, but they are for laws that Roe doesn’t allow,” she said. “Generally, Americans are for protecting abortion in the first trimester. We obviously don’t agree with that, but that’s where they are. And that’s what they think Roe is.”
Progressive messaging on Roe v. Wade is the “best run PR campaign” ever conducted, Dannenfelser joked grimly.
“The abortion lobby wants everybody to think that overturning Roe takes legal abortion away,” she said. “That’s what they’re going to say. Legal abortion is gone.”
But if Roe is overturned, “it just means that people get a say,” she added, “finally, they get their say after 50 years of debate and growing this incredible movement over time.”
Democrats Struggle To Message On Abortion
Abortion advocates will not go down without a fight, the SBA List president warned.
“I think what we’re seeing is an uncharacteristic discipline to not say a lot right now, because I think that they see that they’re on the ropes, that the so-called abortion right is in jeopardy,” she said. “And they’re smart.”
“There is no chance they’re rolling over,” Dannenfelser added. “Chemical abortion and transportation of people to get abortions in other states is the future for them.”
Internal messaging released in February from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee warned that Democrats will severely suffer if they do not learn to better combat “alarmingly potent” culture war attacks from Republicans.
The memo is backed by Republican Glenn Youngkin’s victory in Virginia: Youngkin, who leaned hard on education issues, notably tore into opponent Terry McAuliffe for saying that parents shouldn’t “be telling schools what they should teach.”
Though McAuliffe spent millions accusing his Republican opponent of harboring a “far right” abortion agenda, Youngkin still won the vote of Virginians who prioritized abortion.
In light of this win, Democratic strategists have warned that abortion may not be a winning issue for Democrats heading into 2022, Politico reported in December — and some strategists are advising their clients not to discuss abortion at all.
“I do agree with that,” laughed Dannenfelser. “I don’t generally agree with Democratic consultants, but you know, I think sometimes the Democratic consultants are smarter than the Republican consultants like that. The Republican consultants that are smart are saying, ‘This is a moment to not be afraid, to not go back on your heels, to lean into this thing.’”
The difference, she said, is that Democrats are set in cement on abortion extremism, while Republicans are hoping for consensus in every state.
“So you’ve got consensus versus abortion extremism,” she said. “And if I were a political consultant, I would want to be going for consensus, not extremism.”
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