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Red state Democrats, advocates warn of abortion rights threat in 2024 election

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Red state Democrats, advocates warn of abortion rights threat in 2024 election

Jun 21, 2024 | 4:37 pm ET
By Alander Rocha
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Red state Democrats, advocates warn of abortion rights threat in 2024 election
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Rep. Marilyn Lands, D-Huntsville, listens to debate in the Alabama House of Representations in the Alabama Statehouse on April 9, 2024 in Montgomery, Alabama. (Brian Lyman/Alabama Reflector)

Reproductive rights advocates and Democratic officials in three traditional red states said Friday the 2024 election could have potentially harmful consequences Friday.

The group spoke on a conference call hosted by the Democratic National Committee (DNC), a few days before the 2nd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade and ended federal abortion rights protections. 

The speakers came from states that restricted or attempted to restrict abortion access after Dobbs, a ruling in which three of the six Supreme Court justices who voted to overturn Roe were appointed by former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Following the ruling, trigger laws made abortion illegal in many southern and western states.

“Because of Trump, millions of women living in Republican-led states have fallen victim to dangerous abortion bans, and if Trump is elected for a second term, he, alongside whoever he elects for his VP, is going to take their attacks on women nationwide and enforce a National abortion ban,” said Maddy Mundy, deputy state communications director at the DNC.

Democrats are planning to highlight abortion and reproductive rights in their campaign to hold the White House and Senate and flip the House of Representatives, arguing that Republicans will attempt to impose nationwide bans on abortion if they win control of federal government.

Moody’s Analytics released an analysis this week that show the most probable result is that Biden will remain president with a divided Congress, with a 40% probability. A Republican sweep had a probability of 35%.

The most likely scenario of Biden remaining president with a split Congress suggests that the GOP would flip the Senate and the Democrats would regain the House of Representatives.

Alabama Rep. Marilyn Lands, D-Huntsville, said the state has become “ground zero” for efforts to roll back reproductive rights. Alabama passed an effective abortion ban in 2019 that went into effect shortly after the Dobbs decision came down. 

“What starts in Alabama seems to spread rapidly to other states, especially in the Deep South,” she said.

Lands shared her personal experience of needing abortion care two decades ago.

“I had an unviable pregnancy. My baby had a fatal condition and would not survive, and I was told that my life was at risk. During my campaign, I chose to share my story because it was in stark contrast to women today,” Lands said.

Lands won a special election in March after campaigning on reproductive rights, flipping a seat held by a Republican.

Kansas Democratic Party Chair Jeanna Repass described Kansas as a battleground for abortion rights following the Dobbs decision. In 2022, 59% of Kansas voters rejected a state constitutional amendment that would have outlawed abortion in the state.  Despite that, Repass said Kansas Republicans continue to push for restrictive measures, such as introducing a bill to impose a near-total abortion ban and voting against IVF protections.

Repass said that another Trump presidency could result in a national abortion ban, overturning state-level protections and furthering the assault on reproductive rights.

“Donald Trump and his MAGA minions in Kansas and across the country have shown us exactly who they are, and we should believe them,” Repass said. “They’re using every tool in their toolbox to chip away at reproductive freedoms nationwide.”

Despite GOP headwinds, citizen-led abortion measures could be on the ballot in 9 states

Rep. Lauren Necochea, chair of the Idaho Democratic Party, said Idaho’s abortion ban, which criminalizes the procedure without exceptions for the health of the mother, has had a severe effect on health care in the state. She pointed to the exodus of medical professionals from the state and shared stories of women forced to be airlifted for emergency care out of state. Necochea also said it’s critical to elect Democrats to counteract these policies.

“Idaho women have lost so much, and we all stand to lose even more. As the mother of two girls, I’m heartbroken that I can’t encourage them to put down roots in our home state and build families here. It’s simply not safe to be pregnant in Idaho,” Necochea said.

Mini Timmaraju, President of Reproductive Freedom for All, called for a combined effort to elect Democrats at all levels to ensure federal reproductive rights protection.

“Make no mistake, if Republicans win majorities in Congress and Donald Trump, God forbid, locks in the presidency, a national abortion ban is next,” she said.

State officials also discussed the significance of the upcoming presidential debate, where they expect President Biden to draw a clear contrast between his administration’s support for reproductive rights and Trump’s anti-abortion stance.

“The differences are going to be laid clear. The choices are going to be laid clear, and I think you’re going to see President Biden really make it plain what the risk is with Donald Trump,” Timmaraju said.