The abortion debate has long played an important role in elections, with many voters on both sides considering the issue to be of high importance. But for some time, abortion has largely taken a back seat, particularly in recent elections.
Activists on both sides of the debate predict that will change this election cycle, both in the 2016 presidential election and in several key Senate races.
First, this year’s release of undercover videos showing unethical and illegal behavior by Planned Parenthood officials drew national attention to the organization and to abortion. The videos, along with subsequent investigations of Planned Parenthood, divided Republicans and Democrats, pro-lifers and abortion advocates.
Current pro-life candidates also appear much more willing to actively discuss abortion than did other pro-life candidates in recent elections. Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, believes that current events surrounding abortion are providing an opportunity for candidates to be outspoken on the issue.
“Abortion will bubble over into the general election,” said Dannenfelser.” “If you don’t know how to handle this issue, you will be eviscerated.”
The timing of the decision, likely next June, is expected to drive voter turnout, galvanizing those on both sides of the abortion debate to turn out for a presidential candidate who shares their views on one of the nation’s most polarizing social issues. Oral arguments are expected in early March.
“It’s an amazing convergence of events,” said Charmaine Yoest, CEO of Americans United for Life. “We haven’t seen a moment like this for 40 years.”