Why US midterms are likely to have a profound affect on women’s rights in America | US News


In a park on a Saturday afternoon in suburban Atlanta, a group of young women gather, eating pizza and talking.

But this is no idle chit chat, they are discussing the future leadership of this country, and specifically what the midterm elections on Tuesday mean for their reproductive rights.

Most of them are first-time voters and newly energised by the Supreme Court decision earlier this year to revoke the constitutional right to choose abortion, known colloquially as Roe versus Wade. They are volunteering with the abortion provider Planned Parenthood and are canvassing potential voters in a mostly black neighbourhood.

“I think it’s important that people understand you have a voice and a say in the matter,” Brandy Nalyana, from Atlanta, says.

“With the overturn of Roe v Wade you felt powerless, you were in the streets and nobody was listening to you. But now we have midterms, you’re finally able to utilise your voice.”

Brandy Nalyana, from Atlanta
Brandy Nalyana, from Atlanta

They are part of a strategy being rolled out across this country to use the increasingly restrictive patchwork of abortion rights to drive voters to the polls.

Each state now decides unilaterally what abortion rights are applied and 13 states have already banned or severely restricted access to abortion in the wake of the Supreme Court decision.

Democrats hope to motivate women, particularly, to vote blue and protect their future right to choose.

Nalah Lewis, a policy officer at Reproductive Justice, is going door to door, encouraging people to go to the polls on Tuesday.

As a younger woman she had an abortion and wants others to have the right to choose.

“I personally was not mentally prepared for [having a child]. I didn’t have the finances for that and I wanted to finish school,” Nalah says.

Nalah Lewis is a policy officer at Reproductive Justice
Nalah Lewis is a policy officer at Reproductive Justice

“Republicans are working overtime to take our rights away. I can’t imagine having to drive hundreds of miles away and worry about childcare and taking time off from work or not having the funds to be able to do that. I’m enraged and that’s why I’m asking people to know that abortion is on the ballot.”

Pro choice advocates fear that if both houses of congress flip to the Republicans there could be an effort to institute a federal, nationwide ban on abortion, denying states their ability to keep abortion legal.

In Georgia, the hotly contested Senate race is between incumbent Democrat Reverend Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker, a former American football star who is endorsed by former president Donald Trump.

Republican Herschel Walker is a former American football star who is endorsed by former president Donald Trump
Republican Herschel Walker is a former American football star who is endorsed by former president Donald Trump

The pair are currently deadlocked and if Walker wins it could be decisive in flipping the balance of power in this country back towards the Republican Party.

Walker ran his campaign on a message of anti abortion. In August he said he supported a total ban on abortion even in cases of rape and incest, although he has since revised this to say he supports Georgia’s current status of a six-week ban with exceptions.

But stories from Walker’s own past have emerged and been seized upon by his opponent.

Two women have claimed that Walker had extramarital affairs with them and paid for, or even pressured, them into having an abortion when they became pregnant.

Walker has denied the claims, not that the scandal seems to be affecting him in the polls or among his support base, which remains steadfast.

Republican Herschel Walker is a former American football star who is endorsed by former president Donald Trump

Lots of them were at a eating and drinking on Saturday at a tailgate party outside the Georgia Bulldogs football stadium, the team which Walker starred for.

“I’m not worried about it,” says Vanessa Brosnan, a Republican voter and football fan from Atlanta, “I don’t worry about him because he’s a good guy. He might have a past, but he’s let you know what his past is. There’s a thing called forgiveness.”

Others are plain about the basis of their support of Walker. “I’d vote for Herschel just because he gave us great football,” says Phillip Jennings, a farmer and Georgia Bulldogs fan from Soperton, Georgia.

He says he used to be a conservative Democrat but that the party has “lost its way” and he will now vote Republican across the ticket.

“Crime is rampant everywhere,” he says. “If they’re not killing them with a gun, they’re trying to kill them with a hammer and inflation is killing people, too.

“We’re in an awful place in this country, both Republicans and Democrats, we need a lot of leadership. We need to start looking forward, get these petty issues behind us.”

While many voters seem most animated about issues like crime, immigration and inflation, Democrats are keeping a laser focus on abortion rights.

After the Supreme Court decision to end the constitutional right to abortion, they experienced a significant boost in the polls but that has now disappeared.

As things stand, they could be heading for significant defeats on election night and that is likely to have a profound effect on women’s rights in America.


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