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Interested Parties Memo: One Week Out: Anti-abortion politicians are running scared

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, October 27, 2020
CONTACT: Planned Parenthood Votes Media Office; 212-261-4433; [email protected]
Planned Parenthood Votes Pressroom

TO:               Interested Parties
FROM:         Jenny Lawson, Executive Director, Planned Parenthood Votes
DATE:          October 27, 2020
RE:               One Week Out: Anti-abortion politicians are running scared


With just one week before Election Day, campaigns are getting in their closing arguments to voters. But what they don't speak on is even more telling. It's glaring to note that — even as they rushed to confirm a Supreme Court justice virulently opposed to abortion through a sham process — some of the most vocal abortion foes in the country are now trying to run away from their politically toxic records:

Donald Trump

  • What he said then: In 2016, Trump vowed to only appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade. When asked directly in a debate if he wanted to see it overturned, he said: “Well, if we put another two, perhaps three justices on the court...that will happen automatically in my opinion, because I am putting pro-life justices on the court.” His administration has spent the past four years doing nearly everything in its power to restrict access to abortion.
  • What he says now: Trump has abruptly stopped speculating whether Barrett would overturn the 47-year precedent. During the first presidential debate, he said: “you don’t know her view on Roe v. Wade,” despite her long record hostile to reproductive rights. When asked at an NBC town hall about the possibility of Roe v. Wade being overturned, Trump said, “I don’t want to do anything to influence anything right now.” When Savannah Guthrie asked him directly if he wanted to see Roe overturned, he deflected — saying he thinks Barrett will make a “great decision” and “I did not tell her what decision to make.”

Mike Pence:

  • What he said then: Mike Pence has fought against abortion his entire career, making him one of the staunchest abortion-rights adversaries in the country. He’s said he wants to send Roe v. Wade “to the ash heap of history.”
  • What he says now: When asked directly during the vice presidential debate whether Indiana, where he previously served as governor, should ban abortion if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, he blatantly dodged the issue — instead addressing the death of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani.  

Joni Ernst:

  • What she said then: In January, Ernst signed a brief calling for the Supreme Court to consider overturning Roe v. Wade. And during her last Senate campaign in 2014, she also supported “a federal bill that gives legal personhood rights to fetuses from the moment of fertilization, effectively wiping out legal abortion in the United States.”
  • What she says now: Sen. Ernst is trying to minimize the potential threats to abortion on the Supreme Court, and said at a recent debate that the “likelihood of Roe v. Wade being overturned is very minimal.”

Mitch McConnell:

  • What he said then: In 2019, McConnell bragged about all the federal judges he’s jammed through the Senate, saying: “That gives us an opportunity to begin to pick away at Roe v. Wade."
  • What he says now: During his Senate debate with Amy McGrath in early October, when asked about Roe, he answered: “No one knows what may happen with any nominee.”

John James:

  • What he said then: During a 2018 campaign eventJames called abortion “genocide” and he has pledged to “fight until we end abortion,” advocating a complete ban. He said he would be okay with Roe v. Wade being overturned.
  • What he says now: When asked (twice) in an interview in early October if he preferred to see Roe overturned, James repeatedly stumbled, and ultimately avoided the inflammatory rhetoric he’s used in the past. 

After voters flipped the U.S. House of Representatives, multiple governors’ offices, and state legislatures in 2018 and 2019, empowering reproductive rights champions, vulnerable politicians realized opposition to abortion rights is deeply unpopular with voters; 77% of Americans support access to safe, legal abortion. There is no state in the nation where making abortion illegal is popular. Last week, Yahoo News reported an eight-point drop in support for Barrett’s confirmation due in part to her hostile views on abortion and the threat she poses to the protections guaranteed under Roe v. Wade — which voters in the poll opposed overturning by a 39-point margin.

While these prominent politicians have ducked and dodged questions about their unpopular views on abortion, reproductive health champions have been unafraid to put the issue front and center. Earlier this month, Sen. Gary Peters bravely shared his abortion story — making him the first sitting Senator to do so — and proceeded to gain 50,000 new donors and raise $5 million in the following days. Senate Democrats made the threat to abortion rights a core part of their arguments against Amy Coney Barrett. And candidates, including  Sara Gideon, Rep. Lucy McBath and Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Tina Smithare all standing proudly behind their support for abortion access.

In the waning days of this election, abortion foes are running scared, and reproductive health and rights champions are leaning in. Planned Parenthood Votes built our largest ever electoral program —with the largest volunteer corps in our history — to organize and support these champions. Planned Parenthood advocacy and political organizations are virtually organizing in all 50 states as we contact more than 5 million voters through phone calls, one-on-one conversations with friends and family; and online engagement to elect champions for reproductive rights across the country. The organizing efforts include robust constituency electoral organizing programs centering Black, Latino, APIA and youth voters, with culturally relevant tactics. Planned Parenthood Votes and its grassroots supporters are  motivated, prepared, and proud to stand up for abortion access for all.


Planned Parenthood Votes is an independent expenditure political committee registered with the Federal Election Commission.