NEWARK – Just how big an issue will abortion rights be in the midterm election?
The “leak” was just a week ago and rallies and press events condemning the presumed court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade have been frequent.
You are not going to overturn nearly 50 years of legal precedent without a fight, vowed Bob Menendez at a rally this morning on the city’s campus of Rutgers University.
Other speakers, among them Cory Booker, Mikie Sherrill and state lawmakers Teresa Ruiz and Britnee Timberlake, expressed similar thoughts.
Both senators talked about a bill the U.S. Senate is set to consider this week to codify abortion rights into federal law. As Menendez and Booker acknowledged, the vote would be symbolic. In a 50-50 senate – not to mention the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster – it will not pass.
So Menendez ended the event talking about November.
He asked the crowd of students and other activists to ask all those running for Congress this fall, how they feel about abortion rights. And to demand an answer.
“If we do that, we will get the majority that we need,” Menendez said.
One gets Menendez’ point, but it’s based on two assumptions.
One is that polls are right and a strong majority opposes overturning abortion rights.
The senator is probably on solid ground here.
His other assumption is that middle-of-the-road voters will back Democrats because of their pro-choice stance. They may very well be inclined to do so, but high inflation and gas prices may pull them in the opposite direction.
Booker, who earlier spoke of “right wing radicals” working to strip rights from women, said afterwards that he doesn’t see Roe v. Wade as a strict partisan issue. He said he knows many Republicans with pro-choice views.
When an observation was made that not many Republicans say that publicly, Booker said he was talking about GOP-leaning voters, not necessarily elected officials.
So, will these “pro-choice Republicans” back Dems for Congress?
Clearly, this is one of those political issues that is going to be talked about often between now and November with no obvious answer.
Still, from what we have seen over the last seven days, Democrats are using the leaked draft to rally their troops; Republicans as a group have been largely silent
GOP silence seems to say this is an issue Republicans don’t want to talk about, which gets back to Menendez’ point about putting GOP candidates on the spot.
One thing not in dispute is that abortion rights are safe in New Jersey. A bill codifying those rights into state law was signed recently by Gov. Murphy.
That allows speakers at these events to look, more broadly, at the nation as a whole and the universal need to protect women’s right,
At the same time, Congresswoman Sherrill and others said state protection of abortion rights can change.
Sherrill pointedly noted that the “previous governor” – She didn’t identify Chris Christie – opposed state financial support for Planned Parenthood.