Democrats look to raise $10M for key governors' races with abortion access fund
"The power does rest with the states," said New York Gov. Kathy Hochul.
The Democratic Governors Association hopes to turn anger at the overturning of Roe v. Wade into big-dollar fundraising for critical races where governors will hold sway over abortion access at the state level.
The DGA on Tuesday launched the "Protect Reproductive Rights Fund" to support gubernatorial races in states where access to abortion is at risk.
The DGA said it aims to raise $10 million for the new fund. The targeted states where the money will be directed include Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin.
The fund will be chaired by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, who told ABC News that once the Supreme Court's five-justice majority opinion reversing Roe was leaked in May, she and some of her fellow Democratic governors knew that action had to be taken to protect abortion rights.
"We can look to Washington for leadership, that's important, but also the power does rest with the states," Hochul said. "And we've known all along that we are the ones who are the firewall between what the Supreme Court does and doing what we can to protect the rights of our women."
"I want to take ownership of this [fund] and support other Democratic candidates, whether they're incumbent governors or they're challengers, because where these critical decisions will be made is in the statehouses," Hochul told ABC.
In her own state, she has taken several actions to protect and expand access to abortion since the Supreme Court found there was no constitutional guarantee to accessing it. Those steps included allocating $35 million to providers, not only to accommodate women in New York seeking an abortion but also to prepare for the influx of women who may travel to the state from places where it is or will be widely banned.
Others governors, however, are in legal battles trying to ensure abortion access over the objections of abortion opponents there.
Last week, Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Ton Evers filed a lawsuit challenging the state's 19th-century pre-Roe abortion ban, which criminalizes abortion and only allows an exception to save the mother's life. Evers' lawsuit argues that the ban is unenforceable because it conflicts with other abortion laws that have since been passed.
Due to confusion over whether the ban is enforceable -- with Evers' suit pending -- abortion providers are suspending services in the state.
In the interim, Evers and his administration are taking steps to ensuring state residents have access to clinics in neighboring states such as Illinois and Minnesota.
"The unfortunate thing is that the most vulnerable women don't have probably [the] most opportunities to jump in a car and go to Illinois or Minnesota," Evers told ABC News.
In April, Michigan's Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who is up for reelection this year, filed a lawsuit in support of abortion rights under the state's constitution.
In Pennsylvania, the legality of abortion could change depending on who is elected as governor in November.
The state's Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf is term-limited and cannot seek reelection. Democratic state Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano are running to be his successor. Shapiro has said he would protect the right to an abortion while Mastriano said he would not.
One of the first pieces of legislation that Mastriano introduced as a state senator was a "heartbeat" bill which would have banned abortions if a fetal cardiac activity could be found.
Hochul told ABC News that she believes the DGA's new fund will make a difference in this year's governor races and that people are going to be "energized" to vote following Roe's overturning -- a ruling that inspired passionate reactions from both sides of the issue.
"[Abortion] is going to have a major effect on this November's election, as well as the importance of raising the resources to support our governors," Hochul said.
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