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Democrats mark abortion ruling anniversary with targeted outreach

Protesters gather in the wake of the decision overturning Roe v. Wade outside the U.S. Supreme Court on June 25, 2022, in Washington, D.C. The Supreme Court's decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health overturned the landmark 50-year-old Roe v. Wade case and erased a federal right to an abortion.    (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images North America/TNS)
By Ariel Cohen and Daniela Altimari CQ-Roll Call

WASHINGTON — The Democratic National Committee plans to commemorate the two-year anniversary of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision by announcing that they’ve invested a low seven figures into an outreach campaign aimed specifically at female voters in swing states who are considered less likely to vote.

The campaign, first reported by CQ Roll Call, is yet another indication that Democrats are pinning their hopes on abortion access as a winning issue in 2024.

It’s part of a larger push by Democrats up and down the ballot to highlight reproductive rights: From ads in publications with high women’s readership to billboards targeting swing state House Republicans, Democrats are marking the Dobbs anniversary by reminding voters that justices named by former President Donald Trump were responsible for ending the constitutional right to abortion access. Vice President Kamala Harris and first lady Jill Biden will promote that message as well in campaign stops in Senate battleground states this week.

The DNC is giving money to state Democratic parties to divvy up at their discretion, using whatever platforms they deem most likely to reach the targeted groups, which include Black women and women in rural areas.

Swing states receiving the bulk of the funds include Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Georgia, Nevada and Arizona. Twenty-one states that predominantly back Republicans are also receiving a funding boost for the targeted outreach, but to a lesser extent than the swing states.

The new figure comes on top of a baseline $8.3 million investment this year across every state Democratic party for abortion messaging ― a 25 percent increase since 2020.

“The DNC is committed to ensuring that every woman in the states that will decide this election understands what a second term of Donald Trump means,” DNC Communications Director Rosemary Boeglin said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the committee working to keep the Senate under Democratic control said Monday it is launching an ad campaign on websites aimed at women.

The campaign will target voters in 10 Senate battleground states and run in Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, the lifestyle magazine The Pioneer Woman, and Well Plated, a recipe site, among others.

The effort comes as the Supreme Court weighs further restrictions on the procedure in a challenge to an Idaho law that permits abortion only to prevent a woman’s death. The Biden administration had argued the state ban violated federal law, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act.

“The anniversary of the Republican Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade underscores the stakes of this year’s Senate elections and the importance of protecting Democrats’ Senate majority with the power to confirm or deny Supreme Court justices,” DSCC spokeswoman Annie Lentz said in a statement. These ads will remind voters of the threat GOP Senate candidates pose to our rights, freedoms, and health and why they must be defeated in November.”

The ads direct voters to the DSCC’s website, which highlights GOP Senate candidates’ records, and are aimed at voters in Arizona, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin.

The DSCC did not disclose the amount of the ad buy but said it was less than $100,000.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is also doubling down on abortion access. The group is sending mobile billboards to five swing districts containing quotes from House Republicans expressing support for the Dobbs decision when it was handed down. Axios, which first reported the story, said the five-figure effort will target Republican Reps. Michelle Steel of California, Nick LaLalota and Brandon Williams of New York, Lori Chavez-DeRemer of Oregon and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania.

A June 20 KFF poll indicated that abortion, while not the top voting issue for any group of women voters, still resonates, with 1 in 10 women voters saying abortion is the most important issue determining their vote.

Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, has said he will leave abortion access up to the states. But Democrats have used other Trump comments to argue that those comments are subject to change if he’s elected to a second term.

For example, in 2017, Trump formally backed a House bill from Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., that would implement a 20-week national abortion ban. The bill passed the House by a vote of 237-189 but was blocked in the Senate. Since then, Trump has said multiple times that he would be interested in a nationwide abortion ban.

The anniversary Monday of the Dobbs decision coupled with the coming election has sparked a flurry of legislative activity around reproduction rights and women’s health, including most recently a Senate push to codify the right to receive in vitro fertilization.

On Thursday, lawmakers in the House and Senate introduced legislation to repeal the Comstock Act, an 1873 law that bans obscene matter and articles used to induce an abortion from being sent by mail.

Jonathan F. Mitchell, the architect of the Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025, a platform of conservative policy proposals, has indicated that Trump would use Comstock to limit abortion access nationwide.

Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., who introduced the Senate bill Thursday, said Democrats should take platforms such as Project 2025 seriously.

“It is too dangerous to leave this law on the books,” she said.