“Abortion Is Actually Going to Save Democracy”

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Abortion is actually going to save Democracy.”

Those were the words of Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood, announcing that her organization is donating more than $50 million to help elect pro-choice candidates in November.

How far-fetched is Johnson’s assessment? Not nearly as far as it was before the citizens of Kansas defied the polls and prognosticators: they registered and voted in much larger numbers than expected to defeat a state constitutional amendment that threatened the existing right to choose abortion in that oh-so-red state.

The story has been evolving over the past several special elections. People-in-the-know keep their eyes on these elections as indicators.

Some of the most reliable polling in an often unreliable field comes from FiveThirtyEight. Here’s how they describe their modus operandi:

“We at FiveThirtyEight often track the results of special elections (i.e., elections that occur at unusual times because an office unexpectedly becomes vacant) because of the hints they provide to the national mood.

“When a party consistently does well in special elections — defined not by winning or losing, but by outperforming a state or district’s baseline partisanship — it’s often a sign that the national political environment favors that party, and is therefore a good omen for that party in the upcoming regular general election.”

The special elections that have gained attention began in Nebraska and Minnesota. Both reliably Republican Congressional districts yielded “nail-biter” results. The Republicans won, but by much less than anticipated.

And then came Tuesday.

One surprise occurred in New York’s 23rd Congressional district, where the Democrats exceeded expectations by nine points.

The bigger surprise was the win by Democrat Pat Ryan in New York’s 19th District—a swing district that would have been expected to go to the Republican based on historical trends.

While his opponent railed against crime and inflation, Ryan appealed for unity in protecting abortion and other rights and keeping our democracy intact.

In subsequent interviews, Ryan has spoken of the growth of support that propelled him to victory: “positive energy” from people determined to focus their anger on the injustices they want to correct.

The surge of interest began when the leaked Alito memo appeared. Ryan was in a protest march with a woman in her 60s, who—tears streaming—told him: “I can’t believe we’re doing this again.”

FiveThirtyEight takes those special election data points, adds in better-than-expected results in Washington State primaries and the Kansas amendment vote, plus the Democrats’ pulling slightly ahead in the generic House vote, and they conclude that November may be a rare instance in which the President’s party doesn’t take a “shellacking” in the midterms.

“And if so, Democrats may have the Supreme Court to thank…it seems quite likely that the Dobbs decision is responsible for the shift in the political environment. In other words, it could be akin to other major news events that turned midterm elections on their heads: former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1998, and the Sept. 11 attacks and subsequent war on terror in 2002.”

Meanwhile, wily ole Mitch McConnell has been looking pretty grim in interviews, expressing concern that the “quality of candidates” may prevent the Republicans from retaking the Senate. (Rumor has it that this was an inside dig at Senator Rick Scott, who’s a Trump supporter and was responsible for recruiting candidates.)

All of these developments appear to validate the findings of an NBC News poll that more Americans regard threats to democracy as the most important issue we face–greater than the cost of living and jobs and the economy.

As political strategist Matthew Dowd has observed:

“Voters woke up and said ‘No, No, No! You can’t tear up the Constitution and talk about the price of milk.”

Women and men of all political views have seen the devastation already evident since the decimation of Roe. Even a South Carolina Republican state legislator, who voted for his state’s law prohibiting abortions after six weeks, wept as he told his colleagues about a teenager who almost lost her uterus because of the law.

He, at least, though similar to his colleagues in voting on this crucial medical issue based on a total absence of information and comprehension, demonstrated after the fact an awareness of the cruelty and enormous damage done by their actions.

The stories are appalling. Here’s one from a physician on Twitter, describing a patient whose life was in danger–but not in “enough danger”:

People—women and men, Democrats, Republicans, and independents—are thinking about these outrages. They are also hearing the election denying far-right Republican candidates spew racism, antisemitism, and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric. They are frightened and angry. And increasingly, they are registering to vote.

It’s a long way between now and November 8. The dark money guys are getting ready to dump their millions. You heard about the 90-year-old billionaire who just gave $1.6 billion to Leonard Leo, the man who designed and financed the Supreme Court majority that’s plaguing us now?

Some of that money is sure to end up in Florida, where Rep. Val Demings has a real chance to unseat the unprincipled Big Lie-endorsing Marco Rubio.

And Charlie Crist seems ready and eager to take on the man I regard as the greatest-threat-apart-from-trump: Governor Ron DeSantis—a dangerous and corrupt demagogue amassing his own militia.

There are and will be voting roadblocks and gerrymandering and all kinds of shenanigans awaiting voters.

But an awakened, angry, highly motivated electorate in more and more places is recognizing that their vote is their voice. If enough of us register and vote, we can elect local, state, and national representatives who’ll help us beat back the extremist forces and save our democracy.

And I, for one, may just send Justice Samuel Alito a letter thanking him for saying the future of abortion should be in the hands of the people.

Then I’ll watch with grateful pleasure as the newly elected Congress votes to protect any number of Americans’ rights—beginning with the codification of Roe.


48 thoughts on ““Abortion Is Actually Going to Save Democracy”

  1. Right after investigation of Bonobo society we bear witness to the waking of a sleeping giant lol. I’m fifth generation “friend of women”, I was taught from the begin to recognize power and respect it. I was also taught to not disturb the balance.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. We were four of us. If you wanted something you would ask Dad and he would say yes or tell you to ask mom. Grandpa did the same.

        Liked by 2 people

      1. I really believe that Abigail Adams’s wildest dreams are being fulfilled, without any lawlessness. https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/abigail-adams-urges-husband-to-remember-the-ladies : “And, by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”

        Let’s continue to be active, and not let it get to the point of lawlessness. We are women.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Love that Abigail Adams quote; thanks for citing it here. Yes, we’ll be non-violent, and fortunately, there are plenty of non-tyrannical men with the good sense to appreciate the urgency of this issue. I saw one poll that found increases in nearly all categories post-Alito’s folly. The largest increase was “dads,” at 28%. The conjecture was that wives and daughters were explaining the consequences…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I fought and prayed long and hard for the end of Roe v Wade, but never did I imagine it would fall so quickly. Now, after the fact, I am reading and hearing how detrimental this Supreme Court decision turned out to be. It’s become a case of “throwing out the baby with the bathwater.” It all but eliminates legality for emergency procedures to terminate ectopic pregnancies, for example, or in the case you cite regarding the young woman who died from ventricular tachycardia (a downright dangerous situation if left untreated — I know from personal experience several years ago, although I was already post-menopausal) fairly early in her pregnancy. This decision will not affect me at all, or my daughters, but possibly their daughters in their respective futures. And I pray for them.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Jo, I find your comment brave—and it gave me chills.

      You’re quite right: the implications are huge. And I think we’ll all be affected: I heard a discussion this morning about the impact on health care in blue states as women travel in —or need emergency care while vacationing, for example. In addition, physicians are being hamstrung and demoralized—and if training to perform abortions ceases, other gynecological care will be endangered. Proposed laws for fetal personhood provide further risks for women. The revelations of post-Roe dystopia are increasing daily.

      Thank you very much for your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Joni, the sad and horrific fact is that Alito’s majority opinion gave no consideration to all the information they were provided about women’s health—none! The US has shameful rates of maternal mortality—worst, of course, for Black and Brown women. And the economic implications are also felt most by those least able to have their lives upended. Talk about bubbles: this majority won’t consider any aspects beyond the thinking of the white Christian nationalism of those who put them there. (See Leonard Leo reference in my post.)

      Liked by 2 people

    2. When one extracts a living from professional prevarication I found English a most useful tool. So many many words with many a nuanced interpretations. Thus I would couch their decision as ignorance. Stupidity contains within knowing. It is not hard to imagine Alito or Thomas acting from malice but Amy just appears to be totally insensitive to the feelings of others. After all one does not know which straw will break the camels back and it appears that none considered the blow back. Progress is IMO viewed as a sine wave. This is an opportunity to tear down the weak palisade of Roe and build a Great Wall to better fortify freedom’s future.
      I think it is important because at the end we must chose to forgive or forget. Ignorance is far easier to forgive than stupidity and if we forget the stupidity it will return with a vengeance.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. We shall certainly have to find a new scaffolding to protect reproductive rights.

        I’ve seen a lot of ignorance among the justices and legislators—from basic anatomy to women’s realities. Alito received lots of information before even his draft—and more after it. He ignored it all. I find that both malice and willful ignorance, which could also be considered stupidity.


      2. Apologies People I love are involved. In my own ignorance even if willful I find it easier to forgive. Good people can do bad things. Forgiveness will allow us to remember without malice.
        Roseintherain was mislead. Lost in a strange place what are we if we abandon them?


      3. Richard, are you now accessing my posts on WordPress? They held your comment for my approval.

        I think my response to Jo at Roses indicates the opposite of abandonment.


      4. This seems to be going off. I own neither phone nor watch. I wanted to express a like and ended at wordpress. I can design and build you a killer gaming machine but I quit the programming side with exit of .BAT. But here we are. Is that not a good thing?
        I found your site via MBRU at C&L. I thought that here is a woman who helping to pull people onto the boat. I saw what you did for Jo at Roses. Feels like a hole I’ll stop digging.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks again, Annie, for another great post! I too am more hopeful than I was about Democrats’ prospects in the November midterms. The Supreme Court’s horrible rulings have provided a great source of energy to oppose the MAGA Republicans.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you for this post Annie, and thank you all you intelligent respondees (responders?).
    This gives me hope that in a couple of years time I will be able to write this post –
    ‘Was I ever wrong about the future of the USA’
    It will be a great pleasure to write.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Roger! I still have our conversation about the dangers of fascism; I’m also hoping it’s aging into irrelevance. May this enthusiasm continue through—and well after—the November elections!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. There is a chance Annie that the more the Republican New Right continue to make their excessive and extreme statements, the more ordinarily apathetic or non-committed folk will gave a ‘What The Heck’ moment and vote against them in the mid-terms.
        Best wishes to you guys

        Liked by 1 person

  5. As for Abigail Adams & women, do not forget that millions of women voted GOP & for Trump to made sure that abortion was banned forevermore. My own mother would have voted for the devil himself (& so she did) to make sure that this happened. I have sisters, nieces & cousins who are the same way. So let’s not pretend that women are the heroes of protecting the right to an abortion that doesn’t maim or kill a woman. Many women are super smug right now, saying “that’s what you get” & “that’s the punishment for the wages of sin.”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Polly. Although registration records since Dobbs have shown higher numbers of women registering—and as Democrats—you’re providing an important reality check. The Boeberts and Greenes and Palins continue to proliferate. And then there’s sweet Amy Coney Barrett, sitting in Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s chair, extolling drop off centers for unwanted, forced-birth babies. Shameful!


    2. Men did not break it alone so women will not fix it by themselves. The past haunts the present and shadows the future. “Men know that women are an overmatch for them, and therefore they choose the weakest or the most ignorant. If they did not think so, they never could be afraid of women knowing as much as themselves.”
      ― Samuel Johnson
      A single vote is as a drop in an ocean. Daunting until one realizes that an ocean is just a pile of drops.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. What I find depressing is how much good could planned parenthood do with 50 million, and instead they have to spend it fighting these guys. Or for that matter, how much good can you do with 1.6 billion?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Absolutely, Dougd. The amount of money in politics is a disgrace—and the “darkness” of that money worsens the situation. We need public financing of elections—though this court is spiraling in the opposite direction. Thanks for your comment.


    2. Paint has to have time to dry. Disinfectants and cleaners do best if given a little time to cook. I was more outraged that they were able to dodge $400 million in taxes due. He has no heirs no one would have lost a thing if those taxes had been paid even if you think taxation is theft. Overturning Roe seemed like the end of the world but we see from where we stand now it might just have been the spark leading to the defeat american fascism. 1.6 billion might lead to ending legal bribery of the people representatives. Hope, what you have left when the dark is closing in.
      Courage Dougd. I’ve been to hell a couple of times, the only way is through.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. As you mentioned, Richard, the complex scheme that enabled the billionaire to donate all that money without either party having a dollar of tax liability is infuriating.

        But the activism evoked by the end of Roe, while it can’t curtail the misery being unleashed, is most hopeful.


  7. The special election in NY-23 where I live was so unusual that it is difficult to draw conclusions. The turnout was low, and I don’t believe abortion was a significant issue.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Interesting, whungerford. FiveThirtyEight has the pre-Dobbs margin lean (described on a chart on the link) at R-15. He won by 7, which represented a 9-point margin swing toward the Democrat. As turnout was low, that seems to show greater enthusiasm by Dem voters.


      1. The special election was to fill a vacancy in the old district for four months. Some voters also voted in primary elections in the new district on the same day. In Tompkins County, which leans Democratic, there was a democratic primary, which might have motivated Democratic voters there. In other parts of the district, which lean Republican, there was a Republican primary, which might have motivated Republican voters.


  8. (I’m not talking about rape or incest. There need to be exceptions. ) The right to choose abortion should bring with it the responsibility to use contraceptives including the day after pill. That last is rarely mentioned. Some women want the right to abort right to the time of birth. I find it ironic that while most of us conscientiously recycle garbage, some women think nothing of dumping foetuses on landfills.


    1. I have long felt that our country doesn’t do enough to make safe, affordable, long term contraception readily available. And there should certainly have been a male contraceptive by now. Too often, those who want to dictate what women choose to do with their bodies seem eager to ban contraceptives as well. I believe your statement about ANY women wanting the right to abortion to the time of birth is wholly inaccurate—unless you’re talking about urgent, rare situations affecting their lives when physicians declare danger to mother and/or child is dead or near-death/suffering.


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