Politico’s publication of a leaked initial draft of the Supreme Court’s majority opinion effectively killing Roe v Wade and Planned Parenthood v Casey detonated a grenade that had been a long time coming. Republicans, who have spent the better part of the last four decades attempting to build a conservative majority on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe, are now effectively the dog that chased the car. Meanwhile, Democrats seem vindicated after years of saying that Republicans would gut access to abortion.
But now that it’s likely going to happen, both of them face significant disadvantages. A Washington Post/ABC News poll published on Sunday found that 47 percent of voters trust Democrats as opposed to Republicans on abortion. That number is likely to nosedive even more if this leaked draft becomes the official opinion of the Supreme Court — especially considering other polls show that the majority of Americans support safe and legal access to abortion.
“This is really unprecedented, and just to be frank with you is going to piss a lot of people off across the country,” Marcela Mulholland, political director for the progressive polling outlet Data for Progress, told me in the wake of the news. “And there’s been a lot of talk about this being a tough midterm cycle for Democrats. But I really think there’s no telling how a decision like this could have ramifications and really be a backlash against conservatives who are stripping people of their constitutional rights to bodily autonomy.”
Meanwhile, one Republican strategist who your reporter texted on background had this to say: “Most of the GOP will remain on the offensive regarding inflation, crime and immigration while the Democrats will try to use it to draw female voters away from the growing wave coming at them in November.”
But that doesn’t mean Democrats are in the clear on abortion. Last year, the House of Representatives passed the Women’s Health Protection Act and only one Democrat voted against it: Representative Henry Cuellar, who represents South Texas and is facing a primary challenger in Jessica Cisneros, whom Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez supports.
But the legislation died in the Senate. This makes it harder for Democrats to argue that they will protect abortion rights — which could discourage supporters of women’s rights who otherwise might have stayed at home from turning up to that all-important ballot box.