Jen Downey, who calls herself a “Catholic Republican,” is so unhappy that the Supreme Court may overturn her abortion rights that this year she is inclined to vote for the Democratic candidate for governor of Pennsylvania.
“Absolutely,” she said. “Alone on this issue.”
Linda Ward, also a Republican, said the current state law, which allows abortions for up to 24 weeks, is “reasonable”.
But Ward said she would vote for the Republican for governor, although all leading candidates have promised to sign a law that sharply restricts abortion. She is disgusted by inflation, mask mandates and “awakened philosophy,” she said.
“After what happened last year, I will never vote for a Democrat,” said Ward, a retired church official. “Never!”
Pennsylvania, one of the few states where access to abortion hangs in the balance with this year’s midterm elections, is a test of the political strength of the issue in the world after Rowe, which offers to see if it motivates party foundations or could be a wedge for country independents.
After a draft Supreme Court ruling last week overturning constitutional guarantees of abortion rights, Republicans downplayed the issue by shifting attention to the leak itself and moving away from its essence. They also argued that voter attention was fleeting, that abortion was hardly a silver bullet for democratic apathy, and that more pressing issues – inflation and the unpopularity of President Joe Biden – had already left the interim.
For Democrats, this time is really different.
“These are terrible times,” said Nancy Patton Mills, chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party. “There were so many people who thought it could never happen.”
If Rowe v. Wade is repealed, abortion control powers will return to the states. According to a New York Times analysis, 28 states may ban or severely restrict abortion.
In four states with politically divided governments and gubernatorial elections this year – Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Kansas – the issue is expected to be the fulcrum of the campaign. In Michigan and Wisconsin, where Rowe previously had anti-abortion laws, Democratic governors and attorneys general have vowed to block their implementation. In August, Kansas voters face a referendum to codify that the state constitution does not protect abortion.
Pennsylvania, which has a conservative Republican-led legislature and a Democratic governor with limited time, is one of four states where there is room for governors.
“The legislature is going to put a bill on the next governor to ban abortion,” said Josh Shapiro, a Democrat who did not oppose the party’s nomination for governor. “Each of my opponents will sign it into law, and I would veto it.”
He rejected the view that voters, whose attention may be brief, will absorb the Supreme Court’s serious repeal and move on until the fall.
“I will talk about rights – from suffrage to reproductive rights – to the closing of polling stations at 20:00 on election day,” Shapiro said. “People are very concerned about this. I expect that this level of concern, fear, worry, anger will continue. “
All four leading Republicans running for the May 17 primaries have said they are in favor of a strict ban on abortion. Lou Barlett, a former congressman and one of the two leaders in the race, said he would sign “any bill that comes to my table that protects the lives of the unborn.”
Another major candidate, Doug Mastrian, said in a recent debate that he was against any exceptions – rape, incest or maternal health – in banning abortions. Mastriana, a state senator, introduced in Harrisburg a bill banning abortion after detecting “fetal heart disease,” at about six weeks gestation. Another Republican bill requires death and burial certificates or cremation after miscarriage or abortion.
Democrats in Pennsylvania and across the country are concerned that their 2020 coalition lacks motivation this year after Trump was expelled from the White House. Depreciation applies to blacks, Hispanics and younger voters, as well as suburban voters. It was suburbanites, especially outside of Philadelphia, who gave Biden an advantage in the state.
Democratic operatives hope the abortion will keep those independent voters – who have since opposed the president in opinion polls – from turning to Republicans.
“As Trump no longer burdened voters in the suburbs every week, Republicans hoped to restore traction in the suburbs of Philadelphia in 2022,” he said. J. Balaban, a strategist-democrat in the state. “Rowe’s fall will make it less likely.”
Shavonia Corbyn-Johnson, political director of the State Democratic Party, said that stopping access to abortion “would add to the deterioration of racial differences and maternal health” for minority communities and that the party planned to organize aggressively around the issue.
19-year-old Soleil Hartwell, who works in a big box store near Bethlehem, is typical of voters who leave by-elections after voting in the presidential years. But Hartwell said she would vote this year to defend abortion rights.
“I don’t have children and I don’t plan to have them yet, but if I found myself in a situation that required me, I would be able to” choose the fate of the pregnancy, she said.
Republicans are deeply skeptical that abortion can revive the democratic base.
“Their people are depressed,” said Rob Gleason, a former chairman of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania. “Nothing can save them this year.”
Speaking from Philadelphia after a road trip from his home in western Pennsylvania, Gleason said: “I stopped on the freeway and paid $ 5.40 a gallon for gas. It reminds me every time I fill in, I want change. ”
The large Roman Catholic population of Pennsylvania – about 1 in 5 adults – provided the electoral space for the traditions of Democratic officials against abortion, including Senator Bob Casey and his father Bob Casey Sr., who served as governor. The law, which senior Casey promoted through the legislature in the 1980s, included some restrictions on abortion, which was challenged in the 1992 Supreme Court case of “Planned Parenthood v. Casey.” The court upheld most of the state’s restrictions, while confirming Rowe’s right to abortion against Wade. A draft court order, traced last week, written by Judge Samuel Alita, overturns Casey’s decision along with Rowe.
However, support for abortion rights in Pennsylvania has gradually increased, according to surveys by Franklin & Marshall College over more than a decade.
Last month, 31% of registered voters said abortion should be legal under all circumstances, up from 18% in 2009. Those who advocate for abortion to be illegal under any circumstances fell to 16% from 22% in 2009. Broad middle group, 53% said abortion should be legal under “certain circumstances”.
Prior to the leak to the Supreme Court, the issue did not rank high among state voters. In a poll by the University of Manmouth last month, abortion was one of the two main issues for Pennsylvania voters with only 5% of Democrats and 3% of Republicans. Inflation outweighed the concerns of voters of both parties.
In the town of Hanover, Northampton. in a wealthy suburb of the once-Republican enclave where blue was in color, Dave Savage and Vincent Militt, both center-right voters, analyzed the problem of abortion through the eyes of their adult daughters by loading groceries near the Wegmans supermarket.
Savage, 63, said his 30-year-old daughter firmly believes abortion should be legal, and so it will become an important issue for him in November.
As a retired municipal employee, Savage said he was an independent voter but spent most of his life voting for Republicans. In November, he will not support a gubernatorial candidate who opposes abortion rights, he said. “My position is this: I don’t have a vagina, so I don’t have skin in the game.”
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Militt read aloud the text between her two daughters, pro-abortion advocates, in response to a cousin’s Facebook post that sharply wrote about her opposition to abortion after a leak from the Supreme Court.
“I immediately unsubscribed from her,” wrote one of Milita’s daughters to another. “I would never have an abortion, but I have no right to tell others what to do,” she wrote.
Milit, the head of the municipal administration, said he supports his daughters.
“I’m a Republican, but I’m a moderate Republican,” he said. “I’m a Republican because this county has always been Republican.”
He said he had not decided who to support at the primaries this month. It seemed that his vote in the general election would also be taken away.
“What will happen is that you will lose a lot of Republican votes” because of abortion, Milit predicted. “I think it will hurt the Republican Party.”
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.