Democratic Party chairs in the South are gearing up for a fight on abortion this election cycle

On Tuesday, the Democratic National Committee is hosting a press call with Party Chairs from Southern states affected by restrictive abortion bans.

That includes Florida, where, on the next day, the state’s six-week abortion ban goes into effect.

Speakers will include Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried and state Democratic Party chairs Nikema Williams of Georgia, Susan Swecker of Virginia and Anderson Clayton of North Carolina. 

The call will focus on former President Donald Trump and his role in overturning Roe v. Wade and President Joe Biden as the only choice for voters hoping to restore women’s reproductive freedoms. 

In an advisory announcing the press call, the DNC called out Trump for bragging that he is “proudly the person responsible” for the demise of Roe and that the result has been a loss of access to reproductive care in almost every state in the South. The advisory included a Newsmax clip of Trump saying he would “be leading the charge” to pass a national abortion ban. That clip, however, was from last May. Since then, Trump has come out and said he does not support a national ban and instead supports states’ rights to impose regulations on abortion procedures. 

Still, the abortion issue is huge for Democrats this cycle, with headline-grabbing decisions bringing the debate to the forefront yet again after Roe’s reversal. It started in Alabama, where the state Supreme Court ruled on a case, essentially declaring that frozen embryos were children. The ruling prompted state fertility clinics to stop providing care because they were concerned that doing so may open them to civil liability. The issue pushed the abortion conversation — and the unintended consequences that can come with it — to the forefront of national dialogue. 

The Florida Supreme Court earlier this month upheld a 15-week abortion ban the state legislature had approved and Gov. Ron DeSantis signed. In doing so, the ruling also triggered a new 6-week ban that was approved and signed. 

In Arizona, the state Supreme Court revived a near-total abortion ban from 1864 that was enacted before Arizona even received statehood. The state legislature has since advanced legislation to overturn it, which would reinstate a 15-week ban. 

And in Tennessee, Gov. Bill Lee is expected to sign a bill lawmakers approved that would criminalize helping minors get an abortion.

With all the attention on abortion, Democrats are hoping to capitalize on the issue again at the ballot box, a strategy credited with the party’s overperformance in the 2022 midterms nationwide (except Florida, of course). In March, the issue helped Democrat Marilyn Lands flip a seat in the ruby-red Alabama Legislature.

It’s not the first time this cycle Democrats have zeroed in on Florida’s policies specifically. 

Biden was in Tampa, Florida, last week, where he made abortion a central issue in his remarks. 

Earlier in the month, Biden campaign manager Julie Chávez Rodríguez hosted a press call arguing that, while it will be a challenge, the abortion issue may put Florida back in play for Democrats. Like the planned Tuesday call, she included leaders from other southern states. 

“We’re clear-eyed about how hard it will be to win Florida, but we also know that Trump does not have it in the bag,” she said during the call. 

A total of 17 states nationwide have restrictive abortion bans on the books, including every state in Southeast Politics’ coverage area except for Virginia, which has not enacted restrictive bans since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. North Carolina has a less stringent 12-week ban in place, but the Center for Reproductive Rights considers it hostile to reproductive care.

A total of 14 states, including seven in the Southeast, ban abortions in nearly all circumstances. States with the most restrictive bans in the nation include Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.

With Florida’s 6-week ban set to take effect this week, there will be three states that restrict abortion after six weeks of pregnancy — before most women even know they’re pregnant — including South Carolina and Georgia.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. In early 2022, she left the business to serve as Communications Director for St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch. After leaving the administration, Janelle briefly worked as a communications consultant for candidates, businesses and non-profits, before accepting her position as Publisher for Southeast Politics, a homecoming of sorts to her Florida Politics roots, where she served as a reporter and editor for several years. Janelle has also held roles covering the intersection of politics and business for the Tampa Bay Business Journal and general assignment news with an emphasis on social justice and climate change for WMNF Community Radio, where she also hosted a political call-in show under several names, including Last Call, Midpoint and The Scoop. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected]

© Copyright by Extensive-Enterprises 2024. All rights reserved. Staff Login