Jun 24, 2022 - Politics & Policy

"We are sending women back to 1849": Swing state Dems react to abortion ruling

Illustration of a caduceus spearing a map of the United States.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democrats running for U.S. Senate in swing states condemned the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade on Friday, emphasizing what's at stake in states with divided governments.

Why it matters: Abortion bans and restrictions were in effect or poised to take effect in 2022 midterm battlegrounds, including Wisconsin, Arizona and Georgia.

  • The ruling won't immediately restrict abortion in the swing states of Pennsylvania or North Carolina, but the November elections could directly impact the future of abortion access in those states.

What they're saying: "We are now sending women back to 1849," Sarah Godlewski, Wisconsin's state treasurer and one of the Democrats seeking the nomination to challenge Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), told Axios.

  • Godlewski is referring to a 19th-century state law making providing an abortion a felony. It could go back into effect if Roe is overturned.
  • Wisconsin's Democratic Gov. Tony Evers called a special session to try to repeal the old law, but his effort was quickly shut down by the state's GOP legislature.
  • Planned Parenthood Wisconsin halted all scheduled abortions at its clinics in Madison and Milwaukee Friday, AP reported.
  • "Wisconsin's only option now is to go to states that actually have access to reproductive health care. They're going to have to travel to Minnesota and Illinois," Godlewski added.

"In Arizona, there are already restrictive bans on the books that will take rights away from Arizona women, without exceptions even in the case of rape or incest," Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) said in a statement.

  • Republican Gov. Doug Ducey recently signed into law a 15-week abortion ban that doesn’t include exceptions for rape or incest.
  • Among the Republicans seeking to challenge Kelly is Blake Masters, who thinks judges should also take aim at the right to buy and use contraception.

In Georgia, a state law banning abortions as early as six weeks is likely to take effect, as Axios' Emma Hurt writes.

  • Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) called the Supreme Court decision "misguided," while his GOP challenger Herschel Walker says he "won’t apologize for erring on the side of life."

In Pennsylvania where abortion is legal until the 24th week of pregnancy under state law — the GOP nominee for governor, state Sen. Doug Mastriano, already has introduced a bill to ban abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.

  • Mehmet Oz, the GOP nominee for Pennsylvania's open Senate seat, was "relieved" by the Supreme Court's decision. His Democratic opponent, state Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, said, "The right to an abortion will be on the ballot this November in Pennsylvania."
  • "I will protect abortion rights; Dr. Oz will take them away," Fetterman said. "It’s that simple."

In North Carolina, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's veto is the only thing blocking the General Assembly from passing tighter abortion restrictions in the state, Axios' Lucille Sherman and Zachery Eanes write.

  • Cheri Beasley, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, said the Supreme Court's action will "decimate abortion access."
  • "As your Senator, I will not hesitate to be the 51st vote to end the filibuster and codify Roe nationwide," Beasley said in a tweet.
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