Supporters and opponents of abortion clash in front of Supreme Court after leaked Roe draft

Both sides say they will likely still have the advantage in the 2022 midterm election

Eric Garcia
Tuesday 03 May 2022 07:09
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Supporters and opponents of abortion rights clashed in front of the US Supreme Court building after Politico reported an early draft opinion that would effectively kill Roe v Wade and Planned Parenthood v Casey.

Police officers were already on hand and barricades blocked the steps to the Supreme Court building before protesters began to show up late Monday evening. Many students at universities that dot the nation’s capital descended on the complex with candles with sombre moods.

“I feel like this is, in a way a funeral,” Sabrina, who declined to give a last name. “Something that’s really representative of what we’ve been going through for the past couple years.”

Lauren G, who is 20 and from Pittsburgh and a student at George Washington University, said she cried and knew she had to come to the court after reading the Politico article and said she would try to be active not just in the state’s Senate race but also its gubernatorial race.

“Our state legislature is red,” she said, despite the fact that Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf is a Democrat who has blocked abortion restrictions. “So, it’s only made me want to go out and talk to people and turn out people, not only for the Senate election but also for the governorship.”

Lauren G said it was comforting to see people turning out after the draft leaked.

“I’m definitely angry, but I think what I’m feeling right now the most is just my heart breaking because abortion really is lifesaving health care,” she said. “And the fact that anyone would threaten that is disgusting and this decision also doesn’t bode well judicially. It’s a complete affront to everything the Supreme Court operates on.”

At the same time, some anti-abortion protesters, including some from the nearby Catholic University of America, showed up to celebrate and clashed with supporters of abortion rights.

Randall Terry, who leads the right-wing Operation Rescue that has in the past blocked abortion clinics, led a march with anti-abortion activists while playing a ukulele celebrating the coming death of Roe v Wade.

“Every abortionist here in America should be tried for the killing of innocent babies,” he said. When asked about whether women seeking abortions should be punished, he said that would be left up to local legislators.

“They are accessories for sure,” he said. “Something so they have to be arrested, fingerprinted, their faces in the paper.”

Supporters of abortion rights significantly outnumbered the anti-abortion demonstrators and the varying groups led conflicting chants.

The leaked decision will force both parties having to recalibrate their strategy ahead of the 2022 midterm elections. A Washington Post/ABC News poll released Sunday showed 52 per cent of voters disapprove of President Joe Biden’s job performance. But the poll also showed that voters’ support for Republicans in the 2022 midterm elections for the House of Representatives completely eroded, with Democrats and the GOP virtually tied at 46 and 45 per cent, respectively.

That same poll showed that Republicans were at a significant disadvantage when it comes to abortion. When asked which party voters trust would do a better job on abortion, 47 per cent of voters chose Democrats compared to 37 per cent of voters who chose Republicans.

“This draft ruling will place us on a media rollercoaster for the next several months and ignite further division across America,” one Republican strategist told The Independent on background to speak candidly.

“Most of the GOP will remain on the offensive regarding inflation, crime and immigration while the Democrats will try to use it to draw away female voters away from the growing wave coming at them in November,” they said.

Republicans only need to flip one seat to win the majority in the Senate and 12 seats in the House of Representatives to win majorities in the respective chambers. Sarah Godlewski, who is Wisconsin’s state treasurer running against incumbent Republican Senator Ron Johnson, told reporters she was in town for an event with EMILY’s List, a political group that supports Democratic women candidates who support abortion rights.

“I was just actually leaving dinner where we were talking about the importance of electing pro-choice Democratic women,” she said. Ms Godlewski said the leaked opinion was a “nightmare for me” because Wisconsin has a complete abortion ban from 1849 that would go into effect if Roe is overturned.

“Honestly, this is something much bigger, like what are they gonna come after next,” she said. “And we’ve had 50 years to codify this into law. And we’ve had the House, the Senate, the White House and we still haven’t gotten this done and now we have to wait for this final hour to do something.”

Earlier this year, the Senate failed to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, which has passed the House last year. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia voted against the legislation, while Senators Dianne Feinstein of California, Raphael Warnock of Georgia and Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico did not vote. Mr Lujan was recovering from a stroke.

Ms Godlewski faulted Mr Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s support for keeping the 60-vote threshold known as the filibuster for preventing legislation that would protect abortion access from passing.

“We absolutely need to get rid of the filibuster,” she said. “You know, something I hear from Wisconsinites is why can’t we get anything done.”

Sabrina, the protester, said they get involved and organised but also said they didn’t know what else they could do.

“I feel like I don’t know what more I can be doing that I have been doing this whole time,” Sabrina said. At the same, Sabrina said she would get involved in the election.

“This is a blow but it’s not going to stop me,” she said.

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