Democratic AG candidates present themselves as the last line of defense against abortion

Republican candidates for the office of attorney general, meanwhile, promise to aggressively enforce state bans and act as a check on all efforts President Joe Biden and a Democratic Congress could undertake to expand abortion rights.

While attorney general contests tend to have lower voter turnout and expense than government contests, especially in the “off years” such as 2022, the state’s main law enforcement office has long been a stepping stone. launch for ambitious politicians and an opportunity to acquire national significance. Candidates will not only decide how and whether abortion bans will be enforced in the short term if roe deer is overturned, but it could also be tomorrow’s crop of senators, governors and vice presidents who will make the laws in a post-roe deer nation.

Across the Trump and Biden administrations, attorneys general have used immigration, voting rights, and abortion to try to thwart the president’s agenda by blocking or blocking legislation and regulation at the state and federal levels.

With the increased possibility that the right to abortion could, in a matter of weeks, be left to states, candidate attorneys general across the country are reminding voters of the stakes.

“My role is to ensure the health, safety and well-being of my constituents and I will do nothing to jeopardize their lives,” said Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, who is running for re-election in November. “The AG is in an absolutely fundamental position. We are not only the only authority with the power to prosecute cases in all counties in the state, but we also have unique supervisory authorities when it comes to licensing and regulation. “

Nettle, along with the Democratic Governor. Gretchen Whitmer, is suing to tear down the state abortion ban of 1931, which would come back into effect if roe deer falls, and has repeatedly chased his opponent, the Republican Matt DePerno, for having promised to enforce the law that prohibits abortions even in the event of rape, incest or medical danger for the mother.

“It’s repulsive for me to go back in time a century or more,” Nessel, who recently revealed she had an abortion when she was pregnant with triplets, told POLITICIAN. “Who the hell do these Republicans think they are making that decision for me?”

DePerno, who was backed by former President Donald Trump, he is committed to enforce the state ban on abortion without exemptions for rape, incest or medical threats to the mother. He did not answer POLITICO’s further questions about how he would deal with the matter as Attorney General.

While general powers of attorney vary widely between states, they all could play a role in how dozens of abortion bans often vaguely worded are interpreted and applied. In some states, such as Arizona, the Attorney General can intervene to prevent local prosecutors from filing a complaint against doctors and patients who terminate a pregnancy.

Where this is not possible, they can provide guidance that defense attorneys in those cases can use and advise against prosecuting people for having or assisted with an abortion.

And as the rights against abortion affirm try to go beyond your own borders To prevent people from traveling to neighboring states to end a pregnancy, Attorneys General can defend their residents against allegations and complaints from other state officials or individuals.

Conversely, anti-abortion attorneys general can order local prosecutors to impose a state ban and can themselves file a complaint against, for example, a Planned Parenthood clinic for alleged violations.

Several Democratic Attorneys General have reported how they could use the powers of their office to protect reproductive rights in a post-roe deer landscape.

In January, California Attorney General Rob Bonta issued a memo warning every district attorney, chief of police and state sheriff not to use any state law “to punish people who suffer the loss of pregnancy” – denouncing the cases of two women who have been charged with “fetal homicide” in Kings County after experiencing stillbirths related to drug use, only one of which had the filing of the charges.

In the same month, Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings south to block the town of Seaford from requiring an abortion clinic to hold burials for fetal remains at the expense of patients.

Democratic attorneys general have also teamed up to challenge federal policies and intervene in other states’ legal battles over abortion. This happened recently with the six-week abortion ban privately imposed by Texas, when Blue State Attorneys General argued in an amicus letter that their health systems are likely to be strained by a wave of Texas patients coming for the procedure.

“My opponents will say, ‘Why do you keep poking your nose into the affairs of other states?’” Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, who is running for re-election, told POLITICO. “But we are an oasis for reproductive health care surrounded by states with legislatures that want to undermine access to reproductive health care. So guess where people are coming from when access is limited.

By November, Democrats control 24 of the attorney general’s 51 seats, some of which are nominated rather than elected by the people. Twelve of these incumbents are running for re-election, many of them in states like Michigan, where Republicans have or likely will enact abortion bans. Seven other Democratic candidates are challenging the Republicans in office and eight are vying for open seats.

Abortion rights advocacy groups including NARAL, Planned Parenthood and EMILY’s List are very sympathetic to these races and have mobilized, particularly following the release of the Supreme Court draft opinion, to support the attorney general candidates democratic, organize rallies with them, educate them on strategy and messaging and solicit them millions of members to donate to democratic campaigns.

The Democratic Attorneys General Association is also addressing the issue, announcing on Friday a record $ 30 million investment in their candidates’ campaigns in Georgia, Arizona and other states yet to be called a battleground in light of “the national emergency on the country. abortion, “nearly double what the group collected in 2018.

Not only will the winners of these contests play an important role in abortion law, but the place is also a reliable conduit to higher office, so much so that the National Association of Attorneys General is ironically called in political circles such as the National Association of Aspirants. Governors. Several current and prospective governors and senators are former state attorneys general, as are the current vice president and secretaries of energy and health.

While the expected imminent end of roe deer Adding new urgency to this year’s elections, abortion has long animated Democratic Attorney General candidates, who have argued that they would be the tip of the spear if the court overturned the 50-year precedent and rejected the decision in the states. United. nearly half of whom already have book laws prohibiting most or all abortions.

In 2019, after the then Republican Senate confirmed two of Trump’s Supreme Court candidates, the Democratic Attorneys General Association became the first and, so far, the only national electoral commission to require support for the right to abortion as a condition of its approval and financial support. So while a small group of members, senators and governors of the Democratic Chamber against Abortion remains, the group’s litmus test means that the current list of attorneys general is firmly and uniformly in favor of abortion rights.

“We put the sign and said, ‘If you want to be a Democratic AG, you have to be strong and proud of the right to abortion,” Jennings, the organization’s co-chair, told POLITICO. “We will support you, but you must support this right.”

Dozens of Democratic Attorneys General have repeatedly sued the Trump administration for executive actions restricting access to abortion and contraception, including restrictions on the Title X family planning program and the Obamacare contraception mandate. And Rochelle Garza, the Democrat running for the position of attorney general in Texas, brought the advocacy groups to trial the Trump administration in 2017 for denying abortion to undocumented teens in immigrant detention facilities.

Now the draft opinion ends roe deer it has Democrats saying they feel more pressure than ever to win these races and act as a “backstop” for abortion rights.

“During the Trump years, the AGs were trying to protect their constituents from the excessive reach of the administration and policies that they considered unconstitutional and capable of hurting people. But the interesting thing is that now the AGs must stand up to overcome. their own states, “said Georgia state senator Jen Jordan, the Democratic candidate for attorney general who vowed not to enforce the state’s six-week abortion ban that could go into effect if roe deer Self. “Our legislature – House and Senate – is controlled by the Republicans and thanks to the gerrymandering it won’t go away anytime soon. So the only person standing in the gap would be a GA. “

The Association of Republican Attorneys General, which significantly outclassed its Democratic counterpart in the first quarter of this year according to a POLITICAL review of IRS data, told POLITICO that they have no matching requirements that GOP candidate attorneys general will oppose abortion rights.

“The commitment to support and defend the Constitution and the rule of law is the only litmus test,” said Peter Bisbee, executive director of the group.

Yet nearly all Republicans in the running oppose the right to abortion and promise voters that they will defend and enforce state abortion bans and seek to block any attempts by Biden and the Democratic Congress to expand access to the procedure.

“The attorney general contests will be some of the most consequential elections this November,” said Bisbee. “The Americans know that the AGs and the Republican candidates are the only thing standing between them and the radical progressive agenda.”

Yet, even in the reddish states where those in power oppose the right to abortion, the Democrats point to the survey showing the majority of voters, including large numbers of Republicans and independents, wanting to preserve at least some access to the procedure and foreseeing a political backlash that could help strengthen them in the fall.

“I’m going to make it clear to Arizonans that they can protect reproductive rights by electing me AG,” Kris Mayes, the Democratic candidate in the swinging state, told POLITICIAN. “Republicans are like the dog that took the bus. They don’t know what will happen in November. “

Megan Wilson contributed to this report.