Even a Voting Rights Think Tank Is Sounding the Alarm on Abortion Access

Here's how attacks on democracy have lead to the biggest threat to abortion access since the Roe v. Wade decision almost 50 years ago.

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Even a Voting Rights Think Tank Is Sounding the Alarm on Abortion Access
Photo:Photo by SERGIO FLORES/AFP via Getty Images (Getty Images)

Today, a think tank that focuses on voting rights, money in politics and the criminal justice system is for the first time highlighting how attacks on democracy have lead to the biggest threat to abortion access since the Roe v. Wade decision almost 50 years ago.

Experts at the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan law and policy institute at the NYU School of Law, co-published 11 essays with Ms. Magazine in advance of the Supreme Court case happening on December 1. The nine justices will hear a case involving Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, and the state has explicitly asked the court to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

How are voting rights and democracy connected to abortion access? Glad you asked. Here are Cliff’s Notes on some of the essays that break it down:

  • Unlimited dark money in politics allows lawmakers to pay more attention to their donors than their actual constituents and both the Electoral College and the Senate result in political parties controlling the levers of power with only minority support. This minority rule sets the stage for lawmakers passing policies opposed by majority of voters
  • As part of a broader attack on evidence-based policymaking, lawmakers weaponize pseudoscience to pass abortion restrictions that have no basis in medicine
  • The playbook of voter suppression is eerily similar to that of abortion restrictions: Both add logistical burdens in seemingly incremental steps until the right exists only on paper. Voter suppression makes it harder for people to vote out those who passed unpopular laws
  • If Roe falls, even more people will be criminalized for pregnancy outcomes including miscarriages and stillbirths and could lose their freedom as well as their ability to vote. Criminalization of pregnancy also needlessly contributes to mass incarceration and can affect housing and the ability to work. (The essay cites the recent case of Brittney Poolaw, an Oklahoma woman who was sentenced to 4 years in prison following a miscarriage and positive drug test)

You can read the whole series here.

Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, women and democracy fellow at the Brennan Center, told Jezebel in a statement:

“Among the Center’s core priorities, we work to ensure free and fair elections, champion a diverse judiciary, and advocate for equal justice for all. Abortion rights are not part of our stated mission or daily work.
We initiated this project right after Texas law S.B. 8 went into effect. What started as a Slack channel for staff solidarity and outrage morphed into an articulation of a public response—and an institutional recognition that silence was not an option. In our essay collection, Brennan Center experts zero in on myriad democratic dysfunctions that have led to this pivotal moment—from voter suppression, to the outsized role of big money in politics, from adherence to pseudoscience, to our nation’s over-reliance on criminalization—and point to solutions. We are emphatic that abortion rights are essential to a fully representative democracy and equal justice for all.”

Bottom line: Abortion is essential healthcare and essential to true democracy.

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