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Anti-abortion group sees surge in donations ahead of US Supreme Court ruling
25 January 2022, 07:54
Pro-choice campaigners say State governors should protect the current legislation.
In the nearly two months since a conservative majority of justices on the US Supreme Court indicated openness to dramatic new restrictions on abortion, money has poured into the political fundraising arm of the anti-abortion group Susan B Anthony List.
The organisation secured 20 million US dollars in pledged financial contributions, five times more than it has had at the outset of an election year over its 30-year history, according to figures.
Before the recent surge, the group had already signed off on its largest-ever political budget, 72 million US dollars, for 2022.
That is nearly 20 million US dollars more than it spent in 2020, a year that included a presidential election.
The cash pile virtually guarantees that the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling, anticipated by the summer, will do little to quell what has become one of the most animating issues in the United States.
Abortion opponents say they will pump their newfound resources into the November elections.
Once a decision is issued: “there will be a lot of focus on all the states and the midterm elections”, said Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of Susan B Anthony List.
The Supreme Court is considering a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks.
If the law is upheld, anti-abortion activists said much of the attention would shift to Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Kansas.
These are states with Republican legislatures but Democrats in the governorship, each of whom is up for election in November.
If the Supreme Court overturns the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that women have a constitutional right to an abortion, governors in Michigan and Wisconsin would be powerless to overturn restrictions in their states that were already in place before the 1973 decision.
But these governors would be the only obstacle to new measures passed by Republican legislatures, including outright bans on the procedure.
A Supreme Court decision is “really just the beginning of the work”, said Terry Schilling, president of the socially conservative American Principles Project.
“Groups have actually been really well-connected with state leaders and investing in campaigns at the local level in these swing states, trying to win control in divided governments.”
Supporters of abortion rights, already feeling a heightened sense of alarm by the prospect of a defeat at the Supreme Court, are well aware of how important the governors’ races may be to their cause.
“Really truly, governors in many states are going to be our backstop,” said Jenny Lawson, vice president of organizing and electoral campaigns for Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
“As the decisions come down to the states, these governors are the ones who can protect access.”
She declined to specify how much money the group was budgeting to support candidates who back abortion rights.
Some of the Democratic governors up for reelection are increasingly highlighting their commitment to protecting some form of access.
“And as long as I’m governor, that’s what I’ll do,” Wisconsin governor Tony Evers said during a news conference last week marking the 49th anniversary of the Roe decision.
“I’m proud to stand with so many Michiganders to protect the right to safe and legal abortion,” Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer tweeted last week on the same day organisers of a ballot drive to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution cleared a procedural step.
Over the weekend, Ms Whitmer tweeted that the right to abortion “hangs by a thread” in the Supreme Court.
For their part, abortion opponents are undeniably upbeat as the Supreme Court decision nears.
Thousands gathered on a bitterly cold day in Washington last week for the March for Life, expressing joy and optimism about the prospect of Roe being overturned.
But the political fallout from such a move could be volatile for both parties.