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Georgia Democrats hammer Trump on 2-year anniversary of Roe v. Wade's overturn

Greg Bluestein, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in Political News

Democrats marked the two-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade with events across Georgia that focused on the role that former President Donald Trump played in reversing the landmark decision.

Trump’s allies countered that the state-level abortion limits in Georgia that took effect after the 2022 ruling have helped energize conservative evangelicals who form a pillar of the Republican base in the battleground state.

The dueling narratives played out on Monday as the political focus sharpened on Georgia ahead of this week’s presidential debate, the first time President Joe Biden and Trump meet in a face-to-face showdown — let alone share the same room — since 2020.

Democrats hope to jolt turnout by working to transform November races for president and down-ticket legislative contests into a referendum on abortion rights. They’re employing constant reminders that Trump nominated the three U.S. Supreme Court justices who provided the pivotal votes in overturning Roe.

“Each generation has its battle. We are in a battle for our bodies, for our children to be able to move forward,” said former Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, a former Biden administration official. “We often say that each election is the most important election of our lifetimes. This one absolutely is.”

But Democratic hopes of making abortion a singular campaign issue have been stymied before in Georgia. Stacey Abrams and most other Democrats running statewide were defeated in 2022 by Republicans who tailored their campaigns around economic and public safety issues.

And former Democratic U.S. Rep. John Barrow lost to incumbent Supreme Court Justice Andrew Pinson in May after centering his nonpartisan campaign on opposition to Georgia’s 2019 law, which bans most abortions once a doctor can detect fetal cardiac activity, typically about six weeks into a pregnancy and before many know they are pregnant.

State Sen. Ed Setzler, who authored that law, said Gov. Brian Kemp and other Republicans won their races in 2022 partly because of their support for tough abortion restrictions.

“The left wants to make abortion about Donald Trump because they hate Donald Trump so much. The fact is — it wasn’t Donald Trump that did this,” Setzler told the Politically Georgia podcast. “Who did it was tens of millions of Americans who recognized the humanity of the unborn child.”

Trump, meanwhile, has said he is “proudly the person responsible” for overturning the decision, though he’s upset some conservatives by saying he believes abortion limits should be left to the states rather than having Congress approve a federal ban.

‘About freedom’

The Biden campaign is hoping to reinvigorate voters around abortion rights amid a close presidential race in Georgia, where there are signs that his base of support among younger voters and Black supporters is softening.

“Fundamentally, on this issue, it’s about freedom,” Vice President Kamala Harris said on MSNBC. “And every person of whatever gender should understand that, if such a fundamental freedom such as the right to make decisions about your own body can be taken, be aware of what other freedoms may be at stake.”

Complicating their quest is a bloc of once reliable Democratic voters who aren’t as motivated by Biden’s stance on abortion as other issues. Jessica See, a Marietta healthcare worker, said she supports abortion rights but is forgoing a vote for either Biden or Trump.

 

“Trump is horrible for the nation as a whole. But Biden is more dangerous internationally. Which is worse? I’m not sure,” said See, who is backing Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s independent bid. “As a woman, I want my rights protected. But I don’t want my world to implode.”

Democrats have taken up other threats to reproductive rights, including the Alabama Supreme Court’s decision earlier this year that embryos should be considered children.

Latorya Beasley, an Alabama woman whose in vitro fertilization treatments were halted because of that ruling, was the featured speaker at a Monday pro-Biden rally in Atlanta.

“I know that unless you vote to send Joe Biden and Kamala Harris back to the White House, more women and communities across the country will suffer,” she said. “Georgia — you have the power to tip the balance in this election.”

Faced with backlash, top Georgia lawmakers have tried to inoculate themselves by expressing support for legislation next year to preserve IVF treatments.

House Speaker Jon Burns earlier this month said there “should be no question” that in vitro fertilization will remain available in Georgia. And Lt. Gov. Burt Jones said in March that IVF “should be protected.”

But major questions and significant challenges await Republicans if they push for legislation to enshrine protections for IVF in Georgia law, including growing conservative pushback to the procedure and ongoing legal questions.

Democrats see the GOP dissension as another vulnerability for Republicans on the ballot in November.

Already, party leaders say Democratic candidates must do a more robust job highlighting the issues on the campaign trail. And many question whether the GOP support for IVF is an election-year ploy that will be forgotten when legislators return to the Gold Dome in 2025.

“Some of the conversations that I’m hearing are being had amongst Republicans in the Statehouse are concerning,” Democratic state Sen. Elena Parent told Politically Georgia.

“I really wonder if they will have the fortitude to push forward on ensuring this right for Georgia families.”

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©2024 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Visit at ajc.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

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