Election energy revs up on abortion policy

By Sandhya Raman, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

Evangeline Lancette, the 21-year-old field director for the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List in Montana, is one of over 350 canvassers nationwide clocking long hours going door-to-door to speak to voters this year.

"Every time we see change, it is like making us that much more empowered to keep going every day until the end of the election," she told CQ Roll Call. "We have been able to change many people's minds."

The other side of the abortion debate also is putting up a fight. Laura Terrill, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana's vice president of external affairs, says the abortion rights group is ramping up digital advertising and virtual organizing events.

"We are running nearly a $1 million program in Montana and definitely the most far-reaching program we've run here in the state," she said.

The death of liberal Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is galvanizing activists on both sides of the abortion issue, who were already ramping up on-the-ground efforts to rally behind candidates on the national and state level as the Nov. 3 elections approach. Republicans are in sight of a 6-3 majority, the culmination of a nearly five-decade push to remake the courts after the 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade case affirmed a nationwide right to abortion.

"The Supreme Court vacancy pours rocket fuel on the 2020 election," said Tony Perkins, president of FRC Action, the lobbying arm of the anti-abortion Family Research Council.


President Donald Trump's appointment to replace Ginsburg is expected to strengthen the high court's conservative tilt and is a reminder of the power of the judiciary on all levels. The Montana contest - along with Senate efforts in Arizona, Maine and North Carolina - is pivotal to which party controls the Senate and, ultimately, the confirmation of federal judges who could determine the fate of legalized abortion.

Both sides committed earlier this year to spending record amounts of money to target key voters and have intensified their fundraising pushes since Ginsburg's death last week. SBA List and its partner super PAC, Women Speak Out, planned to spend $52 million for this cycle, nearly triple the amount it spent in 2016. Since Ginsburg's death, the group said it would spend another seven-figure amount in new contributions to push for the confirmation of Trump's nominee.

Planned Parenthood initially budgeted $45 million, 50 percent more than its $30 million spending in 2016. Planned Parenthood Votes announced a new six-figure ad buy on Tuesday that the group says aims to protect Ginsburg's legacy. The ad will air in Pennsylvania, Arizona, Florida and Michigan before expanding to additional states.

Planned Parenthood has not released updated donation numbers since Ginsburg's death but said it sees interest from new volunteers and a spike in response rates from phone banking. Volunteer sign-ups doubled in the past week.


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