Abortion fight brews ahead of 2022 midterms as Supreme Court expected to overturn Roe v. Wade • OpenSecrets

Anti-abortion rights activists and pro-abortion rights activists outside of the U.S. Supreme Court during the 2018 March for Life (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

After nearly half a century, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to strike down Roe v. Wade, which has guaranteed the right to an abortion without excessive government restrictions since 1973. 

A draft opinion obtained by POLITICO Monday night would immediately rescind federal protections for abortion rights if published in its original form. The draft penned by Justice Samuel Alito would leave the decision to ban or allow abortion up to the states unless Roe is codified at the federal level.

The court leak positions abortion as a key issue in the upcoming midterm elections, with groups on both sides pouring money into races that will likely decide the future of reproductive health care in this country.

Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett allegedly voted with Alito in a private conference following December’s oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The case considers the constitutional legitimacy of a 15-week abortion ban in Mississippi. 

“It means simply that state lawmakers have to get to work to enact strong state laws and a policy to protect life across the country,” Steve Aden, chief legal officer for the anti-abortion rights organization Americans United for Life, told NPR Tuesday morning.

Although the decision is not yet final, Republican-led states have pushed to enact abortion bans ahead of the Supreme Court decision that was expected this summer. According to the Guttmacher Institute, an organization that researches and advocates for sexual and reproductive rights, 31 states introduced abortion bans this year. 

Six states – Florida, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona, Idaho and Wyoming – have already enacted bans this year, and the Guttmacher Institute found 26 states were certain or likely to ban abortion should the Supreme Court overturn Roe. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia codified the right to abortion, including recent legislation in Colorado in anticipation of the Supreme Court decision.

Ideological groups spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on lobbying in some of these states ahead of the abortion bans, OpenSecrets found. 

Kentucky legislators voted to override Gov. Andy Beshear’s (D) veto of a 15-week abortion ban last month. Pro-abortion rights group Protect Kentucky Access gave $315,000 to ballot measure committees this year while the anti-abortion rights group Yes for Life only gave around $85,000.

Susan B. Anthony List, a nonprofit dedicated to electing candidates that would end abortion in the U.S., has spent more than $272,000 on state-level lobbying since 2015. The group spent $225,000 in Florida alone, and last year they spent $100,000 on lobbying in the Sunshine State. Last month, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a 15-week abortion ban similar to the ban enacted in Mississippi.

The full extent of these groups’ state lobbying spending is unknown, as several states do not require lobbyists to disclose payments.

Two anti-abortion rights groups collectively spent more than $1 million on federal lobbying in 2021.

The Susan B. Anthony List spent $860,000 on lobbying last year. The group’s PAC spent more than $1.5 million during the 2020 election and has already spent more than $125,000 on 2022 elections

The PAC has raised almost $300,000 so far this cycle and contributed more than $125,000 to federal Republican candidates. Top recipients Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), who is running for reelection, and Susan Wright (R-Texas), who lost a special election last summer for a U.S. House seat, who each received $10,000 from the PAC this cycle.

Anti-abortion rights group National Right to Life spent $220,000 on lobbying last year, considerably less money than the almost $760,0000 it spent 20 years ago. But their PAC power has only grown, as super PACs affiliated with the organization spent more than $3 million during the 2020 election cycle. 

Several other conservative groups with broader portfolios also lobbied against abortion. Concerned Women for America spent over $51,000 on lobbying last year and $9,000 so far this year, while Family Research Council spent $45,000 in 2021 and $10,000 so far in 2022. Heritage Foundation, which lobbies on a wide range of issues including abortion, spent $560,000 on federal lobbying last year.

Abortion rights advocates are also mobilizing dollars ahead of the 2022 midterms, spending over $1.6 million on lobbying in 2021. 

Planned Parenthood spent the lionshare, devoting $1 million to lobbying efforts last year. But the reproductive health care provider spent just over $104,000 on lobbying during the first three months of 2022, the lowest amount Planned Parenthood has spent during a first quarter since at least 2008.

Planned Parenthood has already contributed over $3.5 million to Democratic candidates and liberal groups during the 2022 midterm election cycle. The pro-abortion rights group gave about $6.2 million to federal candidates during the entire 2020 election cycle and spent another $13 million boosting candidates with its own spending. 

On Monday, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, NARAL Pro-Choice America and EMILY’s List announced plans to spend $150 million in nine battleground states ahead of the midterm elections. The pro-abortion rights groups plan to invest in paid ads, field programs, messaging research and polling in Georgia, Nevada, Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, California, Kansas and Wisconsin, according to POLITICO.

The trio has not announced a change to their midterm strategy, but in a statement issued Monday night, Planned Parenthood wrote, “While we have seen the writing on the wall for decades, it is no less devastating, and comes just as anti-abortion rights groups unveil their ultimate plan to ban abortion nationwide. Understand that Planned Parenthood and our partners have been preparing for every possible outcome in this case and are built for the fight.”

NARAL Pro-Choice America PAC has distributed about $129,000 to candidates supporting abortion rights so far this cycle while its nonprofit arm poured another $135,000 into outside spending boosting candidates at the federal level. Jessica Cisneros, a Democrat running to unseat Rep. Henry Cueller (D-Texas) in Texas’ 28th Congressional District, has received the most money from the NARAL PAC this cycle – $10,000. NARAL announced Monday that it would launch a new ad supporting Cisneros ahead of the state’s primary runoff election.

Individual donors give millions through Emily’s List, a PAC that aims to elect Democratic women who support abortion rights to office, to candidates in any given cycle. In addition, EMILY’S List has contributed $235,000 to federal candidates and almost $30,000 to state candidates this election cycle. The PACs largest donation has gone to Nan Whaley, a candidate for governor in Ohio, a state that passed a so-called “heartbeat bill” in 2019. EMILY’S List has given Whaley’s campaign about $13,000 so far this cycle.

The Supreme Court confirmed the draft opinion was authentic in a press release Tuesday morning, but qualified that “it does not represent a decision by the Court to or the final position of any member on the issues in the case.” Chief Justice John Roberts also ordered an investigation into the leak.

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