Midterm elections loom over Supreme Court abortion fight

Both sides of the abortion debate are gearing up for oral arguments in a Mississippi abortion case before the Supreme Court on Wednesday, marking one of the greatest threats to the legalization of the procedure in the U.S. 

While a decision in the high-profile case is not expected until June of next year, the potential decision’s proximity to November’s midterm elections has galvanized political figures and groups on both sides of the debate.

On Tuesday, former Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PencePence-linked group launches 0K ad campaign in West Virginia praising Manchin Jan. 6 panel releases contempt report on Trump DOJ official ahead of censure vote Pence calls for Roe v. Wade to be sent to ‘ash heap of history’ ahead of abortion ruling MORE, who has been viewed as a potential 2024 presidential hopeful, delivered remarks on the case with the Susan B. Anthony List, a prominent anti-abortion group.

“I did not come here today to speak about popular opinion or jurisprudence,” Pence said. “I came here to speak about right and wrong, to say life is a human right and urge the Supreme Court of the United States to choose life.” 

The Susan B. Anthony List launched a $10 million ad campaign to push their messaging on the case and has canvassing operations on the ground in states like Arizona, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. 

Meanwhile, abortion rights groups such as the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and NARAL Pro-Choice America have rolled out slates of endorsements just under a year out from the midterms. 

Planned Parenthood and its partners announced on Monday that they would be holding a “Bans Off Our Bodies Day of Action” nationwide, including in-person events in Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. The Women’s March will hold an event outside of the Supreme Court on Wednesday, protesting anti-abortion efforts. 

Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, regarding Mississippi’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, is the latest case on the procedure to come before the Supreme Court this year. The court is also considering Texas’s controversial six-week abortion ban, which was argued before the justices on Nov. 1. 

But the Mississippi case has drawn particular attention because it’s the first abortion-related case that the Supreme Court has taken up in which a state is requesting that the court overturn the constitutional right to the procedure. Additionally, the case will mark the first abortion case since conservative Justice Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettPence calls for Roe v. Wade to be sent to ‘ash heap of history’ ahead of abortion ruling Supreme Court to hear landmark abortion case this week Graham emerges as go-to ally for Biden’s judicial picks MORE took her place on the high court. 

The court is expected to issue a ruling in June, and groups on both sides of the debate say that the decision’s proximity to the midterms will make it a hotly contested issue ahead of November’s elections. 

“Once people understand how real this threat is, it motivates them even more,” said Samuel Lau, senior director of advocacy communications at the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. 

“We are seeing anti-abortion politicians across the country already really tying themselves to these extreme antiabortion views,” he continued. 

Prominent Republican politicians, including Pence, have aligned themselves with anti-abortion groups like the Susan B. Anthony List to push for more restrictions on the procedure and to overturn Roe. v. Wade. 

“I’m a big believer that weighing in on this brief will not only undermine [Planned Parenthood v.] Casey, which was the assumption that was made in that court case, but also that it will build momentum to end Roe v. Wade,” South Dakota Gov. Kristi NoemKristi Lynn NoemNoem sets South Dakota record for largest-ever fundraiser Republican former South Dakota House Speaker challenging Noem Noem’s daughter to turn in real estate appraiser license amid scrutiny MORE (R), a potential presidential candidate, said on Monday during a press call with the Susan B. Anthony List.

Noem vowed on Monday that if South Dakota loses a legal fight over a state law that requires women to consult with crisis pregnancy centers before going ahead with an abortion, she would work to get the Supreme Court to consider the case. 

“We have a couple of opportunities here to make a case to undermine and remove Roe v. Wade,” Noem said on the call. 

A federal judge did not lift an injunction on the South Dakota law, arguing that it infringed on a woman’s right to abortion access and freedom of speech. Noem has since appealed to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Governors are going to play an increasingly large role in abortion policy, leading the Democratic process in their states along with the state representatives,” said Mallory Quigley, vice president of communications at the Susan B. Anthony List.

Recent polling shows that most Americans say Roe v. Wade should be upheld. A Washington Post-ABC News survey released last month found that 60 percent of Americans say they believe the Supreme Court should uphold Roe v. Wade, while 27 percent say they think it should be overturned. 

However, other polling shows that a majority of Americans say they believe the procedure should be illegal in later trimesters of pregnancy. An AP-NORC survey released in June found that 61 percent of Americans say abortion should be legal in most or all cases during the first trimester, but 65 percent say it should be illegal in the second trimester. Another 80 percent said it should be illegal in the third trimester.

Both sides argue that the abortion debate will not be over with next year’s ruling. Pence predicted on Tuesday that if Roe v. Wade is overturned, the abortion debate would move to statehouses across the country.

Abortion rights groups have also pointed to the fight that could play out on the state level, whether they win or lose at the Supreme Court.

“Even if we have a ‘win’ at the court, we still need to use it as an opportunity to let folks know yes, it will be incredibly important that Roe v. Wade will be upheld. It will be incredibly important that Jackson Women’s Health will continued to provide care, and there are very few abortion providers throughout Mississippi and the south,” said Destiny Lopez, co-president of All Above All, an abortion-rights group. 

“There are still major and massive restrictions to abortion,” she added. 

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