Democrats believe abortion will motivate voters in 2024. Will it be enough? – DNyuz

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WASHINGTON — When Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump said recently that he was “proud” to have a hand in overturning the abortion protections enshrined in Roe v. Wade, Democratic pollster Celinda Lake took it as a political gift, thinking to herself, “Oh my God, we just won the election.”

It may not be that simple, but as the 2024 race heats up, President Joe Biden‘s campaign is betting big on abortion rights as a major driver for Democrats in the election. Republicans are still trying to figure out how to talk about the issue, if at all, and avoid a political backlash.

“A vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris is a vote to restore Roe, and a vote for Donald Trump is a vote to ban abortion across the country,” said Julie Chavez Rodriguez, Biden’s campaign manager. “These are the stakes in 2024 and we’re going to continue to make sure that every single voter knows it.”

Since Roe was overturned in 2022, voters have pushed back by approving a number of statewide ballot initiatives to preserve or expand the right to abortion. Support for abortion rights drove women to the polls during the 2022 midterm elections, delivering Democrats unexpected success. For many people, the issue took on higher meaning, part of an overarching concern about the future of democracy, according to AP VoteCast, a nationwide survey of more than 94,000 voters in the midterm elections.

Democrats are working to broaden how they talk to voters about the Supreme Court’s decision, delivered by a conservative majority that included three justices nominated by Trump, and what it means for people’s access to health care and their personal freedoms.

The Biden campaign is launching a nationwide political push this coming week centered on Monday’s 51st anniversary of the 1973 decision that codified abortion rights. Vice President Kamala Harris, the administration’s chief messenger on this, will hold the first event in Wisconsin on Monday.

On Tuesday, Biden, Harris, first lady Jill Biden and second gentleman Doug Emhoff will travel to Virginia for another campaign stop focused on abortion. It will be their first joint appearance of the 2024 reelection campaign, a marker of how much importance the campaign places on the issue. More events featuring top Democrats in battleground states are also in the works.

Focusing on abortion will not be a silver bullet for Democrats. The economy, foreign policy, immigration and inflation are major issues, too, as is concern about Biden’s age as he tries to overcome low poll numbers. Many voters are simply turned off by the prospect of a likely 2024 Trump-Biden rematch.

Still, Democrats believe abortion will be a key motivator for base voters and help expand their coalition. Biden aides and allies point to recent elections that have overwhelmingly shown that, when voters can choose, they have chosen to safeguard abortion rights.

The issue isn’t vanishing from the headlines anytime soon, either. The Supreme Court will decide whether to restrict access to medication prescribed for abortion and to treat other reproductive issues. And there is an ongoing stream of stories about the impact of abortion bans, such as the mother who had to sue, then flee, her home state of Texas to end her doomed pregnancy.

Democrats spent decades trying to calibrate their message on abortion, always defending the right to choose while also making overtures to voters who are conflicted about the issue. President Bill Clinton’s mantra was that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare.”

But the loss of federal abortion protections has been a catalyst for a broader and bolder message about abortion and reproductive rights after the historic setback from the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to overturn Roe.

“We know that if we talk about this issue as a fundamental freedom, we are able to resonate across demographics — older voters, younger voters, people of color, folks in rural areas,” said Mini Timmaraju, head of Reproductive Freedom for All, formerly the National Abortion Rights Action League.

Biden aides said the strategy is to let the president be who he is — an 81-year-old Catholic man who generally avoids using the word abortion and prefers to talk instead about the issue in the context of personal freedom.

The White House often frames the fight over abortion as part of a larger battle that involves book bans, voting rights and other issues. Harris is the messenger for more aggressive talk about abortion specifically and how the ripple effects of the decision are affecting maternal health.

Timmaraju said those “different messages resonate with different parts of the electorate.”

Since the high court overturned the nationwide right to abortion, roughly 25 million women now live in states with some type of ban in effect. The impacts are increasingly felt by women who never intended to end their pregnancies, yet have had emergency medical care denied or delayed because of the new restrictions.

According to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll, among Democrats, nearly nine in 10 say abortion should generally be legal. Four in 10 say it should be legal in all cases, and nearly half say it should be legal in most cases. About nine in 10 Democrats say their state should allow a pregnant person to obtain a legal abortion at six weeks into the pregnancy, compared with about three-quarters of U.S. adults overall.

As for Republicans, the topic was largely absent in the lead-up to this year’s Iowa caucuses, a remarkable change in a state that has long backed religious conservatives vowing to restrict the procedure. Part of the change is because Republicans achieved a generational goal with the overturning of Roe. But it also underscores a pervasive fear among Republican candidates and voters alike that vocalizing their desire to further restrict abortion rights in 2024 might be politically dangerous.

“I am calling the time period we are in now ‘the new fight for life,’” said Benjamin Watson, a former NFL player who is now an anti-abortion advocate. “Roe is done, but we still live in a culture that knows not how to care for life. Roe is done, but the factors that drive women to seek abortions are ever apparent and ever increasing. Roe is done, but abortion is still legal and thriving in too much of America.”

Overall, opinions on abortion remain complex, with most people believing abortion should be allowed in some circumstances and not in others. About two-thirds of U.S. adults say abortion should generally be legal, but only about one-quarter say it should always be legal and only about 1 in 10 say it should always be illegal.

Trump has waffled on the topic. During a recent Fox News town hall, he expressed support for limited exceptions and criticized state laws that ban abortion after as little as six weeks.

“We’re living in a time when there has to be a little bit of a concession one way or the other,” Trump said.

But he also has promoted his own role in undoing the nationwide right to abortion, a milestone goal for his conservative and evangelical supporters.

“For 54 years they were trying to get Roe v. Wade terminated, and I did it and I’m proud to have done it,” he said.

The Biden administration is nearing the limits of what it can do to preserve access to abortion absent congressional legislation. In the immediate aftermath of the Dobbs decision on June 24, 2022, the administration quickly tried to flex its regulatory muscle to fight back against Republican efforts to severely restrict abortion. Many efforts have been challenged in court.

Biden had invited states with robust abortion access to apply for Medicaid waivers that would help pay for women to travel for the care. But so far, only California has applied to unlock federal money for the effort. The legal battles around abortion pills, emergency health care and state laws have stymied some of the agency’s efforts.

The nation’s top health official, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, is beginning a three-day tour along the East Coast to talk with doctors and medical students about access to abortion and birth control.

“This is the beginning of an effort to reach out to all Americans,” Becerra said, and “say to the American people how important it is that we stand up at a crucial time.”

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Associated Press writers Alanna Durkin Richer in Boston and Amanda Seitz and Linley Sanders contributed to this report.

The post Democrats believe abortion will motivate voters in 2024. Will it be enough? appeared first on ABC News.

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