Democrats lean on abortion rights message for anniversary of end of Roe

June 25, 2024

Two years after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade—unleashing a cascade of state-level abortion bans and prompting angry political backlashDemocrats are marking the anniversary by highlighting the role former President Donald Trump played in ending the constitutional right to an abortion, reports The New York Times.

Through advertising, campaign events and news conferences, Democrats are fanning out across the country, working to remind voters that it was justices nominated by Trump who helped overturn Roe v. Wade.

“Donald Trump is the sole person responsible for this nightmare,” President Biden said on Monday, June 24. “My message to Americans is this: Kamala and I are fighting like hell to get your freedom back.”

The messaging push is unfolding during a tight presidential race, as Biden confronts weak approval ratings and the coalition that propelled his 2020 victory shows signs of fraying.

As they seek to reinvigorate their voters, Democrats are embracing variations of arguments that have fueled other victories in the past two years: that the Republican Party is ever more extreme and infringing, to an extraordinary degree, on some of the most personal healthcare decisions Americans can make.

“Fundamentally on this issue, it’s about freedom,” Vice President Kamala Harris said in an MSNBC interview that is set to run in full on Monday. “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.”

On Monday, Harris is also expected to speak in College Park, Maryland., and in Phoenix to “remind voters that Donald Trump is responsible for overturning Roe and the chaos that has followed,” and to “highlight the threat a second Trump presidency would pose to reproductive freedom nationwide,” according to the Biden campaign.

Her husband, Doug Emhoff, is headed to Flint and Clawson, Michigan, with a similar message, and top Biden surrogates around the nation are seizing on the issue as they seek to frame the contrast in the election.

“It’ll be a binary choice on who’s going to restrict your rights,” Governor Tim Walz of Minnesota, who is the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, said in an interview on Sunday, June 23. “This will just be a narrative of their extremism, but this one is baked in because it’s real. It’s not theoretical.”

Trump has said he is “proudly the person responsible” for overturning Roe v. Wade—a line that Democrats are eager to highlight—and has suggested that, if elected, he would allow states to prosecute women who violate abortion restrictions. He also has said that he believes abortion policy should be left to the states—disappointing some on the right.

Democrats successfully deployed messaging around abortion rights in critical races during the 2022 midterm elections a few months after Roe was overturned and in a number of special elections since. Campaigns, including Biden’s, are highlighting women’s personal experiences with abortion bans championed by Republicans.

But in this election, Americans are also weighing a broad range of other considerations, and polls show that on a number of key issues—although not abortion policy—voters saying that Trump would do a better job than Biden.

“Polling has consistently shown Biden and the Democrats already have an issue advantage on abortion, and yet Trump continues to lead in the battleground states,” Robert Blizzard, a Republican pollster, said. “They will certainly lean in on abortion, but unless Democrats find a way to puncture Trump’s legacy on the economy, they will continue to struggle.”

Voters are also assessing the personal characteristics of Biden, 81, the oldest American president in history; and of Trump, 78, who is the first American president convicted of a crime.

Many of these issues are likely to come up at their debate on Thursday, June 27—the first of the general-election campaign.

Research contact: @nytimes