Liberal groups are seizing on Republican attempts to roll back health coverage and limit access to birth control, as they seek to galvanize women voters ahead of next year’s midterm elections.
Organizations such as Planned Parenthood Action Fund and Emily’s List believe the Trump administration handed them a potent political issue Friday when it carved out wide exceptions to the Affordable Care Act’s promise of no-cost contraception. Activists plan to link this action to congressional Republicans’ repeated attempts to undercut the ACA in ways that could have caused millions to lose health insurance, as part of a broader strategy focused on defeating moderate GOP members and buttressing vulnerable Democrats.
“As millions of women watch this administration take away fundamental health care like birth control, they’re also paying attention to all those members of Congress who are not standing up to fight for them,” said Erica Sackin, political communications director for Planned Parenthood Action Fund, in a phone interview.
Democrats are eager to capitalize on women’s anger toward the Trump administration and congressional Republicans in a cycle that could be punishing for Democratic Senate incumbents. While Democratic candidates could make some gains in the House, the party is defending 10 Senate seats in states won by President Trump — five in states he won by double-digits. By framing their message around health-care access, strategists hope to appeal to women voters who might not see themselves as part of the anti-Trump “resistance,” but who opposed GOP health-care proposals this spring and summer.
Activists said the 2018 cycle is ripe for strong, pro-woman messaging in light of mounting sexual harassment scandals like the one engulfing Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, which remind women of their continued vulnerability to discrimination, and Trump’s poor approval ratings with female voters.