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Democrats Don’t Want Voters to Get Too Excited About the Supreme Court’s Abortion Pill Ruling

“I’m delighted,” Democratic Rep. Kathy Manning said. “But let’s not fool ourselves.”

Elizabeth Warren
“The very fact that it made it all the way to the United States Supreme Court tells us both how determined Republicans are to take away access to abortion,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren said of anti-abortion groups’ attempt to restrict access to abortion pills. J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Democrats were thrilled to see the Supreme Court reject a bid to limit access to a widely used abortion pill, but their primary message to voters is one of caution.

Voters shouldn’t let Republicans off the hook just because the conservative justices gave abortion rights advocates a win based on a legal technicality, Democratic lawmakers tell NOTUS.

“This whole case was nuts from the beginning, and yet it was pursued by Republicans who are trying anything to try to shut down access to abortion,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren said. “The very fact that it made it all the way to the United States Supreme Court tells us both how determined Republicans are to take away access to abortion and how much the Trump courts are willing to play along with it.”

The court’s decision “has no real precedential value,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal. “Reproductive care is as much an issue today as it was yesterday, despite this decision or perhaps because of it, because they refuse to reach the merits.”

“We’ll take the win for now,” Rep. Susan Wild told reporters earlier Thursday. “I don’t think we should by any means think that that’s an indication that the Supreme Court is going to suddenly be in favor of women’s reproductive rights. … I think it’s really important for people to understand that it was almost a technicality that they decided it on;, it’s why it was a unanimous decision.”

The Supreme Court unanimously dismissed a legal case brought by a coalition of anti-abortion groups challenging the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of mifepristone — the most common abortion method in the U.S. — because they lacked standing.

The case is considered to be the first of its kind demanding that a federal court overturn a drug approval issued by the FDA. Ultimately, the court found that the groups made “complicated causation theories” that were not enough to “make a drug less available for others,” Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote in the opinion.

In light of the ruling, Democrats were quick to say that abortion access could still be stripped back more than it has been.

“Right now in America, half the country has to turn on the TV to find out whether unelected justices on an extremist court think they deserve to have reproductive freedom on any given day,” Rep. Pat Ryan said in a statement. “As long as far-right extremists continue their campaign to rip away reproductive rights, we’ll continue our fight to protect them.”

President Joe Biden, too, emphasized that reproductive rights remain on the ballot in November.

“Today’s decision does not change the fact that the fight for reproductive freedom continues,” Biden said in a statement. “It does not change the fact that the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade two years ago, and women lost a fundamental freedom.”

“The stakes could not be higher for women across America,” Biden added.

Increasing and maintaining abortion access has been a major talking point for Democrats, as they bank on the issue driving voter turnout. A Gallup poll released Thursday found that “a record-high 32% of U.S. voters say they would only vote for a candidate for major office who shares their views on abortion.” Most of those voters, the poll found, identified as “pro-choice” — signaling some trouble for Republicans running in vulnerable districts and states.

“We are going to be reminding Americans of all that’s at stake for reproductive freedom not just today, but on the debate stage —– and every single day leading up to the election,” Biden campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez told reporters.

Former President Donald Trump met with Republicans in Congress Thursday, during which he briefly mentioned abortion, urging the party to improve its messaging on the issue. Trump said Republicans should speak to abortion as a state issue. The GOP is “afraid” to talk about abortion and that it cost them “40 seats,” Trump told lawmakers.

Democrats will not “take our foot off the [gas]” when it comes to messaging on abortion ahead of November, said outgoing Rep. Kathy Manning, whose North Carolina district is being targeted by House Republicans’ campaign arm.

“This is just a temporary reprieve,” Manning told NOTUS. “I’m delighted that [the Supreme Court] made the right decision, but let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that they did this for the right reason.”

Oriana González is a reporter at NOTUS.