Abortion rights supporters and opponents are planning rallies to honor the one-year anniversary of the United States Supreme Court’s decision to reverse the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that had legalized the procedure nationally.
The ruling, whose anniversary comes this Saturday, had a swift impact by freeing states to ban abortion. Republican-controlled legislatures in numerous states passed restrictive legislation, with near-total abortion bans now in place in 14 states even as opinion polls show that a majority of Americans want abortion legal in all or most cases.
Abortion rights supporters did manage in some states to fight off new proposed restrictions or codify abortion protections.
Ahead of a rally set for Saturday in Washington, Rachel Carmona, executive director of the Women’s March activist organization, acknowledged the devastating blow dealt to reproductive rights by the Supreme Court’s reversal last year.
“We are framing this to lift up the wins that we’ve had in the last year, but of course it’s a somber day for us,” Carmona said.
The rally, sponsored by several national groups, aims to ensure the day “does not go down as a victory lap for people who are trying to strip reproductive rights from our country,” Carmona added.
The White House said Vice President Kamala Harris will use a speech on Saturday in Charlotte, North Carolina, to make the case for national legislation to protect abortion rights – currently an unlikely prospect in a deeply divided Congress. Harris is set to deliver her speech a week before a new Republican-backed law takes effect in the state, banning abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy, down from the current 20-week window.
Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America on Tuesday will announce a new partnership with former White House advisor Kellyanne Conway, according to Emily Osment, a spokesperson for the anti-abortion group. Conway, who served as an adviser to former President Donald Trump, will lead the group’s messaging and help train Republican candidates to “get on offense to talk about pro-life protections moving forward,” Osment said.
Conway will be joined at Tuesday’s press conference by state lawmakers who have helped pass new abortion restrictions since Roe was overturned as well as staff from anti-abortion pregnancy crisis centers who have faced threats and attacks since the ruling, Osment said.
In last November’s congressional elections, Republicans narrowly won control of the House of Representatives but overall did not perform as well as had been expected. Strategists in both parties have attributed Democratic strength at the polls at least in part to higher support from women who back abortion rights.
Activists on both sides of the abortion debate have made clear that the issue will remain central in next year’s congressional and presidential races.
Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America is urging candidates seeking the Republican nomination to back a federal ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Democratic President Joe Biden, an abortion rights supporter, is seeking re-election.
Reproductive rights advocates said they hope to harness popular support for legalized abortion to help elect officials who could reverse limits that already have been imposed and protect access where it remains intact.
Some 64% of respondents in a Reuters/Ipsos poll in May said they were less likely to support a presidential candidate who backed laws severely restricting abortion, compared to 36% who said they were more likely to back such a candidate.
Critical election battlegrounds include Virginia, the Southern state with the least restrictive abortion laws and one of a few places where voters will elect new state legislators this November, according to Christina Reynolds, spokesperson for the group Emily’s List that backs Democratic female candidates who support abortion rights.
Glenn Youngkin, Virginia’s Republican governor, wants greater limits on abortion, but a narrow Democratic majority in the state Senate has blocked any such measure. Reynolds said her group will be fighting to protect that Senate majority and try to pick up seats in the state House of Delegates.
The biggest expansions of abortion rights over the past year occurred in states including Michigan and Minnesota where Democrats control both the legislature and the governor’s office, Reynolds said.
“We want to make more states Michigan and Minnesota,” Reynolds said.
NARAL Pro-Choice America, another group involved in Saturday’s rally in Washington, is mobilizing its 4 million members to canvass, make phone calls and collect signatures for ballot measures such as an Ohio state constitutional amendment that would protect abortion rights, according to Ryan Stitzlein, the group’s senior political director.
In every election since the Supreme Court ruling, Stitzlein said, “abortion has been front and center, and a huge motivating factor for voters – and we expect that to continue.”