TO: Interested Parties
FROM: EMILYs List
RE: Republicans Scramble to Cover Up Support For Abortion Bans
DATE: September 15, 2022
Abortion is on the Ballot — Because Republicans Put It There
With less than 60 days until the midterm election, it’s becoming increasingly clear that abortion is on the ballot. And each poll and election proves that this is bad news for Republicans, who stand on the wrong side of a clear majority of voters. That’s why Republican candidates across the country are scrambling to hide their records and their real agenda from voters, from scrubbing their websites to trying to stem the damage by introducing yet another unpopular national abortion ban.
As the New York Times points out, the striking down of Roe v. Wade is one of the Republican party’s central policy objectives, achieved against the will of a majority of voters, and an elected government in line with the voters. There is simply no precedent for this sort of minority rule, and Republicans, once cocky about their midterm prospects, are staring down historic backlash.
Data confirms: a large majority of voters support abortion access, and are more willing to vote for a candidate who will protect their rights rather than one who will take them away.
- 85% of American voters think abortion should be legal in some or all circumstances
- The overwhelming majority of new voter registrations since the Dobbs decision have been women and disproportionately young women, at that
- Six out of 10 women voters are more motivated to vote after the Dobbs decision
Some of the biggest players in GOP campaigns confirm that in their own data, and see that the Republican position has deteriorated since the fall of Roe:
By 51% to 32%, battleground state voters say Republicans are more extreme on abortion than Democrats, according to polling exclusively provided to NBC News by WPA Intelligence, a GOP political consulting firm…
Asked which group they identified with in the abortion debate, 54% said “Pro Choice,” compared to 39% who identified as [anti-abortion rights]
The findings are consistent with those of another recent survey shared with NBC News, conducted by the firm OnMessage Inc., which consults for Senate Republicans. It suggests “Pro Choice” voters outnumbered “Pro Life” voters by a similar margin of 17 percentage points, triple what it was before the Supreme Court’s ruling.
“DO NOT ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN,” the slide deck, obtained by NBC News, reads in an all-caps red typeface on a page about Democrats’ seeking to paint Republicans as extreme. “MUST FIGHT THIS TO A DRAW.”
That’s a marked shift from earlier in the campaign cycle, when Republicans were far less likely to spend time and money talking about abortion. In the wake of the Dobbs decision, GOP operatives at the national and state levels advised candidates to stay focused on the economy rather than get drawn into battles over abortion.
In short, the GOP agenda on rolling back our abortion rights may be the key to their defeat in the midterms.
Let’s be clear about what’s happening here: Republicans have been opposed to abortion rights for 50 years. They’re not going to give up their pursuit of a ban, they’re just trying to lower the political price they are primed to pay.
That’s why SBA List, a major player in Republican politics which endorses banning all abortion, sent their candidates seven pages of guidance in July with suggestions on how to obscure their radical positions, offering advice on how to avoid so-called “traps” set by Democrats which could get them “to say damaging things.” Previously SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser has said that the “perfect abortion bill” would ban abortion with no exceptions for rape or incest.
With voters wise to the threat poised to abortion rights by Republican elected officials, GOP candidates as have scrambled to hide their support for extremist, unpopular, abortion bans.
The following candidates have tried to scrub their records and run from the past:
- Adam Laxalt (running against Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto) penned an op-ed stating he does not support a federal ban despite his long history of anti-abortion efforts.
- Amanda Adkins (running against Rep. Sharice Davids) wrote in an op-ed she does not support a federal ban despite earlier efforts as chair of the Kansas GOP.
- State Sen. Zach Nunn (running against Rep. Cindy Axne) also wrote in an op-ed he supported abortion ban exceptions, despite the fact he raised his hand in a Republican primary debate to indicate that he did not.
- Gov. Mike DeWine (challenged by former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley) scrubbed his website of his anti-abortion agenda after promising “to go as far as we can” to strip reproductive rights away from his constituents.
- State Sen. Tom Barrett (running against Rep. Elissa Slotkin) removed abortion language from his website in August. However, Barrett has boasted that he’s “100% pro-life” with “no exceptions.
- Congressman Mike Garcia (challenged by Christy Smith in California) walked back his position on no exceptions for rape, incest, or life of the mother, despite an earlier vote for a near-total abortion ban without exceptions.
- Barbara Kirkmeyer (Yadira Caraveo's opponent in Colorado’s new 8th Congressional District) said abortion was now a state's rights issue in a recent National Journal piece, despite answering abortion should not be allowed in any extenuating circumstance earlier this year.
Minimizing Abortion Rights Doesn’t Work, Either
Others have tried to minimize the importance of the GOP assault on our reproductive rights, dismissing public outrage:
- Jen Kiggans (running for VA-02) called abortion a “shiny object” being used to distract voters
- Tom Barrett (running for MI-07) said abortion wasn’t one of the most “salient” issues to voters right now
- Tudor Dixon (challenging Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer) even went so far as to say that there could be “healing” through having a baby for survivors of rape/incest and dismissed those with concerns about the state’s 1931 law not covering life-threatening emergencies as “fake,” saying “all of these fake stories about if you have an ectopic pregnancy… the existing law covers that.”
Democrats Are Holding Republican Candidates Accountable
From coast to coast, Democratic campaigns and committees are attacking Republicans over their vulnerable anti-choice positions – ensuring that voters know where their opponents stand despite their chaotic attempts to moderate their views.
In New York, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s campaign released an ad attacking opponent Lee Zeldin for celebrating the overturn of Roe v. Wade and supporting abortion bans with no exceptions.
In Nevada, Rep. Susie Lee released a second ad attacking her opponent April Becker for accepting the endorsement of National and Nevada Right to Life, which supports a total ban on abortion with no exceptions.
Also in Nevada, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto released an ad featuring an OB/GYN from Carson City, who talked about how Adam Laxalt’s extreme anti-abortion record not only puts women in danger but also doctors who guide people through personal health care decisions.
In Washington state, two new ads released by House Majority PAC and Rep. Kim Schrier’s campaign attack Matt Larkin for supporting a national ban on abortion and allowing the prosecution of doctors and nurses for providing abortion services.
Shortly after her Democratic primary victory, Sen. Maggie Hassan released an ad attacking her anti-abortion extremist GOP opponent Don Bolduc for being a rubber stamp for a nationwide ban with no exceptions.
Just the Beginning
This new national abortion ban is just another chaotic GOP attempt to reset a political disaster, and a sign that the Republican party, no matter what, will be ignoring the majority position of Americans: that reproductive health decisions should be made by those who need care, not the government.
Voters in Kansas delivered a warning sign to Republicans by overwhelmingly backing abortion rights. They continued to pursue their extreme policies. Voters in red-leaning and swing-district special elections elected Democratic candidates. They doubled down. Republicans will roll back our rights and use the government at every level to control private medical decisions unless they are stopped. EMILYs List joins our endorsed candidates and Democratic allies in sending an unmistakable message to the Republican party: Americans are pro-choice and will demand their freedom and rights at the ballot box in November. This Republican agenda and the chaos as they try to conceal it is one of the best paths to Democratic victory.
EMILYs List, the nation’s largest resource for women in politics, works to elect Democratic pro-choice women up and down the ballot and across the country with a goal of fighting for our rights and our communities. Our work is centered around a fundamental vision: Run. Win. Change the World. EMILYs List has raised over $700 million in service to that vision and has helped Democratic women win competitive elections by recruiting and training candidates, supporting and helping build strong campaigns, researching the issues that impact women and families, running one of the largest independent expenditure campaigns for Democrats, and turning out women voters to the polls. Since our founding in 1985, we have helped elect the country's first woman as vice president, 159 women to the House, 26 to the Senate, 16 governors, and nearly 1,400 women to state and local office. More than 40% of the candidates EMILYs List has helped elect to Congress have been women of color. Visit www.emilyslist.org for more information.