Democrats in the United States are making abortion rights a central part of their campaigns ahead of the critical midterm elections, pumping an unprecedented amount of money into ads on the issue.
Entering the most intense campaign period this year, Democrats have already spent more than an estimated $124 million on abortion-related television ads, according to an Associated Press analysis of data from nonpartisan research firm AdImpact.
That’s more than double the money the party’s next top issue — “character” — and nearly 20 times more than what it spent on abortion-related ads in midterms 2018, the news outlet reported Tuesday.
Reproductive rights were thrust into the spotlight in the US after the nation’s top court in June overturned a landmark 1973 decision guaranteeing the constitutional right to abortion in the US.
Though anticipated and welcomed by some, the ouster of Roe v Wade sparked feelings of anger and sadness in many across the country, sparking mass demonstrations where protesters demanded that Democrats defend people’s right to the trial.
Republican-led states have moved to severely restrict abortion following the US Supreme Court decision, and human rights activists say blacks and those on low incomes will bear the brunt of the restrictions.
Since the Supreme Court decision, roughly one in three dollars spent on television advertising by Democrats and their allies has been focused on abortion, the AP analysis shows.
Much of the spending is designed to attack Republicans in the Nov. 8 vote, who have long opposed abortion rights and are currently trying state-by-state to limit abortion rights or ban the practice altogether.
The unprecedented investment by Democrats in televised abortion messages this year through Sept. 18 is larger than the Republican Party’s nationwide investment in advertising related to the economy, crime and immigration, the AP said.
“With less than 60 days until the election, we refuse to stand by as unconventional Republicans try to control our bodies and our future while lying to voters about it,” Melissa Williams, executive director of Women Vote!, an outside group , which has invested more than $4 million in abortion-related advertising this year, the news agency said.
“We’re making sure every voter knows the candidates who are with and against them to protect that right,” Williams said.
A recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll showed that 22 percent of Americans said abortion was their top issue ahead of the midterms, while 58 percent said the Supreme Court decision in Roe v Wade increased their likelihood of running for election to go.
“The Supreme Court decision … this summer had a major impact on electoral politics leading up to the midterms,” said Lee M. Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.
“Not only are Democrats more motivated to vote than Republicans because of the court decision, Democrats remain energized while Republican interest has waned since June.”
In July, House Democrats passed two bills to protect abortion rights, including protecting patients who travel abroad to access abortion services. However, the measures failed due to resistance from the evenly divided Senate.
The effort in Congress comes after Democratic President Joe Biden signed an executive order this month directing the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to protect and expand access to abortion services, including travel abroad and state-licensed ones medication.
Meanwhile, political disagreements over abortion came to the fore again last week when Republican Senate Minority Leader Lindsey Graham introduced a bill that would ban abortion at 15 weeks of pregnancy in the US.
“If we passed my bill — our bill — we would be in the mainstream of most of the rest of the world,” Graham, a staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump, said during a news conference, adding that dozens of European countries have similar, if not stricter restrictions.
Although the law has no chance of passing, the White House condemned it as “wildly out of step” with the views of the US public.