DLCC head touts states’ roles in protecting reproductive freedom

Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) President Heather Williams says abortion is on the ballot in 2024, and that state Legislatures will likely shape the future of reproductive freedom in the U.S.

During an interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Williams warned of an increasingly extreme Republican Party and the implications to things like in vitro fertilization and the inclusion of new abortion restrictions that are prompting Democrats across the U.S. to share their own abortion stories in an effort to support comprehensive care.

“The Republican approach to removing our choices around our health care by putting up barriers to getting the kind of care that we as women need — Republicans can’t win on this issue. They are not winning on this issue,” Williams said. “The American people do not trust them, and they believe that we should have access to a full slate of reproductive health care and that we should have reproductive freedoms.”

Her interview came as the DLCC released a new memo highlighting various GOP attacks on reproductive freedoms.

The memo spotlights “Republican trifectas” in 23 states — many in the Southeast U.S. — where the GOP controls both chambers of the state Legislature and the Governor’s Office. All of those states have passed abortion restrictions.

“It is clear Republicans in power are continuing to ramp up their attacks,” the memo reads.

The memo notes that the DLCC is “leading the fight to set the national agenda to protect reproductive rights and freedoms at the state level,” with a $60 million budget — its largest to date — to elect leaders who will protect women’s reproductive health.

Democrats have been gaining ground in statehouses for election cycles now. Just last cycle, we created new majorities that protected the rights of more than 30 million Americans,” Williams said on MSNBC.

“And we have a really big map of opportunities this election cycle. We know that the stakes are incredibly high — decisions around our freedoms, our reproductive freedoms, around our democracy, (and) around how we care for each other in our communities are being decided in the states.”

Williams also commented on access to in vitro fertilization (IVF), a topic that wasn’t particularly controversial until the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that three couples could pursue wrongful death lawsuits for their “extrauterine children” after frozen embryos were destroyed in an accident at a storage facility, essentially ruling that frozen embryos were children.

The ruling prompted IVF providers to suspend care as they awaited protections. Alabama lawmakers have since approved such protections to allow IVF treatments to continue, and Gov. Kay Ivey signed that legislation.

But the ruling shot the issue into the national political lexicon and has fueled additional speculation about red state attempts to pursue fetal personhood laws that could further complicate abortion access.

“The work we do at the DLCC, really setting this national agenda for these legislative races across the country, matters so much. What happened in Alabama around IVF is not unique to Alabama. We’re seeing Republicans run with this issue. We’re seeing them restrict our access to tools that are used to grow families … (and) evaluate our health care,” Williams said.

The DLCC memo notes the potential implications to “the conservative claim that life begins at conception.”

“Anti-abortion activists are working to criminalize and restrict common health care procedures, and this effort is spreading,” the memo reads.

The DLCC works to elect Democrats to statehouses nationwide. Its 2024 target map emphasizes protecting Democratic majorities where they exist and targeting vulnerable Republican-held seats to make inroads in red states. The goal is to expand “fundamental freedoms like abortion access.”

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]

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