The political action committee of Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the United States, is planning to invest $45 million or more into efforts aimed at flipping control of the Republican-led Senate and unseating President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.
The multi-million dollar funding will go toward “large-scale” campaigns with print, radio, television, direct-mail ads, and neighborhood canvasses, according to The Hill.
In a blog post on Wednesday, Planned Parenthood said that its campaign will reach across 50 states to “to take back the Senate, the White House, state legislatures, and defeat harmful ballot measures across the country.”
“The stakes are higher than ever, and we’re coming out more powerfully than ever with the largest investment we’ve ever made,” Kelley Robinson, executive director of Planned Parenthood Votes, told The Hill.
While the campaign will span across the United States, the abortion provider is focusing on nine key swing states in its initial spending: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
Robinson said that Planned Parenthood’s message may have the potential to “mobilize women and people of color to vote in 2020.”
“We know we’re going to have a critical role mobilizing those folks to win back the Senate and expand the path to 270 to win back the presidency,” she told The Hill.
According to the outlet, Planned Parenthood plans to tell Americans that there is a “coordinated attack” among Republicans in state legislatures, Congress, and the White House to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that hamstrung states’ ability to restrict abortion.
Twelve states have passed laws restricting abortion access this year, some aimed at provoking a Supreme Court review of Roe v. Wade.
In addition to slamming the prospect of overturning Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood in its blog post also denounced Trump’s recent rule changes with regard to the federal government’s Title X family planning program.
In August, Planned Parenthood left the federal Title X program due to the Trump administration’s new rules, which “prohibit the use of Title X funds to perform, promote, refer for, or support abortion as a method of family planning.”
Planned Parenthood in its blog also flagged a recently-announced abortion case as having the potential to yield “a decision that could defy precedent and make the protections of Roe v. Wade virtually meaningless.”
The Supreme Court announced on Oct. 4 that it would take a major abortion case related to abortion access—the first abortion case since the appointment of conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh, which shifted the court to the right.
Following Planned Parenthood’s $45 million announcement, March for Life President Jeanne Mancini said in a statement cited by Fox News: “It is unfair to force Americans to subsidize through their tax dollars this partisan political organization bent on electing pro-abortion politicians.”
Mancini also alleged that Planned Parenthood is “a political advocacy group with a focus on expanding abortion,” and as such, the multi-million dollar funding is “no surprise.”
Roe v. Wade
The 1973 Roe v. Wade decision established that it is part of a woman’s “right to privacy” to undergo abortion (pdf). States can only ban abortion after “viability,” meaning “potentially able to live outside the mother’s womb, albeit with artificial aid.”
The Supreme Court’s 1973 decision said that if unborn children are persons, then they have the right to life. The ruling determined that unborn children are not persons, but acknowledged that “if this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant’s case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’s right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the [Fourteenth] Amendment.”
This year, five states passed laws banning abortion when a fetal heartbeat—which can manifest as early as six weeks into pregnancy—can be detected: Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi, Georgia, and Louisiana.
Missouri on May 24 signed into law an eight-week ban on abortion. Arkansas on March 15 and Utah on March 25 both signed into law a ban after 18 weeks, with certain exceptions. Alabama signed into law on May 15 a measure that makes abortion a felony in nearly all cases—the exception being for cases where abortion is needed to prevent a serious health risk to the mother.
Other states have passed different laws around abortion. North Dakota signed into law on April 10 a ban on the abortion methods of dilation and evacuation. Indiana on April 24 signed a law that bans the same abortion procedures as well as procedures for second-trimester abortions, and allows doctors to choose not to perform an abortion.
None of the abortion laws are currently in effect.
The Title X program was established in the 1970s under Ronald Reagan’s administration and provided funding for family planning projects for mostly poor people. Several years later, then-President Bill Clinton amended the rules such that Title X recipients were not just allowed, but were required to refer patients to abortion providers.
In reinstating almost similar rules to what was brought in under Reagan, the Trump administration stated in May that the rules would “ensure that taxpayers do not indirectly fund abortions.”
The rules also require “clear financial and physical separation between Title X and non-Title X activities.”
Planned Parenthood is estimated to have received about a quarter of all Title X funding. The abortion provider says it had served more than 40 percent of patients in the Title X program. Having left the program, Planned Parenthood is expected to lose some $60 million—less than 4 percent of its revenue, which in the fiscal year of 2018 reached close to $1.7 billion.
Zachary Stieber and Reuters contributed to this report.