Presenting the #VOTEPROCHOICE 2019 Strategy
Three months into 2019, the radical anti-choice minority has accelerated its extreme legislative and propaganda machine in every corner of the country. This radicalized movement relies on a well-funded infrastructure established over decades that uses online and offline tools to bully, threaten and harass people. They are hellbent on stigmatizing abortion, and generating shame and fear. The end goal is to overturn Roe v Wade while also keeping the antichoice base activated and ready to re-elect Trump in 2020. The threat is real and it’s getting worse. That’s why #VOTEPROCHOICE is launching an updated 2019 Strategy —because we cannot allow this radical anti-choice minority to gain any more ground.
We can and must elect prochoice champions in every election, everywhere. Because here’s the truth — over 80% of Americans think Roe v Wade should NOT be overturned. 72% of American voters believe that abortion should be safe, legal, affordable, accessible and respectful.
We are a prochoice nation. Period.
#VOTEPROCHOICE, a project of Democrats.com LLC, was founded in March 2016 to elevate the nation’s prochoice majority in the 2016 election. #VOTEPROCHOICE is based on the principle that when the nation’s prochoice majority understands the threat to reproductive freedom, they will #VOTEPROCHOICE in every election.
#VOTEPROCHOICE overall strategy uses three tactics:
- Elect prochoice champion candidates where reproductive freedom is the most at stake,
- Build the nation’s most extensive, most comprehensive, progressive digital voter guide to help voters #VOTEPROCHOICE all the way down the ballot, and
- Partner with the entire reproductive health, rights and justice movement as well as the entire progressive movement to protect reproductive freedom everywhere.
Here’s what’s in store for #VOTEPROCHOICE in 2019.
THE BAD NEWS
We’re going to be honest with you — we have a legitimate CODE RED status for reproductive freedom. Many people in this country are facing the reality of a “forced birth” nation right now, and it’s getting worse.
SCOTUS = NOT OUR FRIEND
We all knew that reproductive freedom was fundamentally at stake with Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the United States Supreme Court. That’s why #VOTEPROCHOICE joined the #StopKavanaugh coalition in September 2018 to fight like hell against the nomination. Unfortunately, our worst nightmare is coming true.
There are currently 20 abortion cases in the pipeline to the Supreme Court. The Court has stopped choosing cases for 2019, so a total overturn of Roe v Wade will not likely happen until June 2020. The cases in the pipeline will continue to chip away at abortion access this year, as lower courts are increasingly emboldened to support restrictions throughout the country.
The Louisiana Abortion Ban Decision: The February 7 Supreme Court decision blocking Louisiana’s unconstitutional abortion ban was NOT good news. Brett Kavanaugh, precisely as predicted, wrote an elaborate dissent outlining his clear desire to overturn Roe v Wade. Chief Justice John Roberts appeared to join the mainstream Justices blocking the law. However, his brief provided an outline for what he wants to see in future cases. Do not bet on Roberts to protect our reproductive freedom.
TRUMP’S ADMINISTRATIVE ASSAULT: DESTROYING TITLE X
On March 9, the Trump administration issued a devastating anti-choice “gag rule” for medical clinics receiving Title X federal funding. Essentially, health care practitioners must blatantly lie to their pregnant patients, omitting abortion as an option in their care to keep federal funding. The “gag rule” will have a devastating effect on community health care clinics like Planned Parenthood, with particularly terrifying consequences for low-income people of color and transgender patients who depend on these clinics.
THE ANTI-CHOICE PROPAGANDA MACHINE
In November, the 2018 midterms swept a powerful wave of prochoice champions into public office, soundly defeating anti-choice candidates all over the country. People like Minnesota Rep. Ilham Omar or Kansas Rep. Sharice Davids. Colorado State Rep. Faith Winter and Rep. Brianna Titone. We even elected prochoice champions in Ohio, Georgia, Tennessee, and Texas. Now, seeing the writing on the wall, the anti-choice minority is trying everything it can to desperately maintain power — propelling radical, graphic rhetoric into high-gear. The propaganda is shaming and confusing people with heinous misconceptions about abortion or proposed legislation that criminalizes people who miscarry. This nonsense is being piped into all channels at full volume, with Donald Trump, the Propagandist-In-Chief, tweeting that Democrats want to “execute babies,” and spreading lies about later abortions in his State Of The Union.
Some quick tips: 1) “Later abortion” is not a medical term. Do not be shamed or coerced into an online or offline conversation about a procedure that isn’t real. 90% of abortions happen before 12 weeks. Anything in the third trimester is either miscarriage management, fetal anomaly or a stillbirth when we should be respecting and supporting families, not shaming.
2) Use the term “antichoice” or “forced birth” instead of “prolife.” Let’s be real.
For more information about how to combat the anti-choice propaganda machine, visit our friends at Guttmacher Institute, National Institute for Reproductive Health, and the Center For Reproductive Rights. The facts are on our side. Have honest, authentic conversations online and offline. Tell your story and normalize abortion using hashtags like #ShoutYourAbortion and #OneInFour. Sign up for @HelloThePill for up-to-date info.
ANTI-CHOICE STATE LAW AVALANCHE
Since Trump was elected, anti-choice laws are churning out of the conservative legislative machine at a mind-blowing rate. Here’s what we’re seeing:
- In the first months of 2019, over 250 anti-choice bills have been filed in 41 states and it keeps growing every day,
- At least ten states are pushing fetal heartbeat bans in 2019, attempting to ban abortion before most people even know they’re pregnant. Six have already passed, and Georgia’s Governor could sign their “heartbeat bill” as soon as today (4/1/19).
- Five states now have “trigger bans” that will automatically outlaw abortion when Roe v. Wade is overturned: Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Arkansas added theirs last week. Similar bans are being considered in eight states right now.
What this means is that 77% of women in the US do not live in a state supportive of their reproductive freedom. On average, 90% of counties in the US have no access to abortion, with some states as high as 99%.
The overly funded anti-choice minority spent the last 20+ years and millions of dollars focused on state legislatures — electing anti-choice politicians and passing hundreds of restrictive anti-choice bills. Frankly, they’ve been incredibly successful. Control over our bodies is being taken away by elected officials at every level of government. There are thousands of stories like this:
- City Council members in Manassas, Virginia changed the city’s zoning code to require medical care facilities to obtain a special permit — essentially banning abortion clinics from the community.
- In Maury County, Tennessee, the elected sheriff, Bucky Rowland, refused to allow an inmate to obtain an abortion because he didn’t believe the abortion was necessary.
- In Milton, Florida, the elected Santa Rosa County School district replaced sex ed with abstinence-only education, removing any mention of birth control from the curriculum. Don’t even get us started about the state of sex education in this country — it’s horrifying.
- In Mounter County, Pennsylvania, elected District Attorney Rebecca Warren charged a mother with a felony for giving her daughter medicine to induce an abortion.
- People continue to serve jail time for self-inducing abortions — in the United States of America.
Lack of access is already a reality for millions of people in our country. Local. Races. Matter. Local elections have critical impact on our reproductive freedom. That’s why we have to #VOTEPROCHOICE all the way down the ballot.
THE GOOD NEWS
While the situation is dire, there is some good news. First, we must always, always remember that WE ARE A PROCHOICE NATION.
- 7 in 10 voters in America believe in reproductive freedom, access to abortion and shame-free reproductive health care.
- 1 in 4 women will terminate a pregnancy before the age of 45.
- Two-thirds of people choosing abortion have already had at least one child.
- 95% of people choosing abortion DO NOT REGRET IT.
- Democratic House of Representatives Members introduced the EACH Women Act ensuring abortion coverage for everyone, regardless of insurance status.
People in this country understand that reproductive freedom is FREEDOM — economic freedom, religious freedom and freedom of self-determination.
All the 2018 election victories at every level of government clearly showed us that prochoice voters are ignited, engaged and ready to act. Never forget that we are the majority. We must not let them win.
PROCHOICE LAWS IN STATE LEGISLATURES
In the first three months of 2019, state and local prochoice champions have been working hard to protect our freedom. Proactive policies are key to protecting freedom and prochoice champions lead the way.
- #VOTEPROCHOICE endorsed candidates throughout the country introduced proactive prochoice legislation in state houses in Vermont, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, and Virginia.
- Newly elected prochoice champions in the New York Senate finally passed the Reproductive Health Act and the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act after a decade of political inaction.
- 21 states have filed a lawsuit against Trump’s Title X “gag rule”
We have all the power we need to protect reproductive freedom everywhere just like this — but only if we #VOTEPROCHOICE in every election, for every office. This is exactly why #VOTEPROCHOICE exists.
#VOTEPROCHOICE 2019 STRATEGY
While we certainly must keep our eye on the 2020 presidential, 2019 is a critical election year with thousands of state and local offices up for election. There are elections practically every week in the United States, and we have to win all of them.
This year #VOTEPROCHOICE will endorse and support 100+ prochoice champions in targeted elections where reproductive freedom is at stake.
We choose our state legislative and municipal priorities with policy rigor and political savvy, evaluating locations based on four critical factors:
- Guttmacher Institute Reproductive Rights Policy Score
- Movement Advancement Project LGBTQ Policy Score
- Maternal mortality rates from various public health sources.
- Percent of people identifying as women living in counties without an abortion clinic.
There are statewide and legislative elections happening in five states in 2019. The #VOTEPROCHOICE national team of political strategists will focus on races in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Kentucky. #VOTEPROCHOICE will also support our organizational partners in state legislative races in Virginia where many of our progressive partner organizations and the Democratic Party are focused.
In addition to these states having elections in 2019, they rank the absolute worst in America for reproductive freedom, with post-Roe trigger bans in place and horrific maternal mortality rates — particularly for women of color.
There are also thousands of municipal races happening throughout the country. #VOTEPROCHOICE is zeroing in on 25 local races where we will help prochoice champions run for mayor, city council, school board and everything else on the ballot.
Our metrics, scores and priorities are always available to our partners and progressive prochoice friends. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
THE VOTEPROCHOICE ENDORSEMENT PROGRAM
The #VOTEPROCHOICE endorsement program is one of the best-kept secrets in politics. Our candidates are unapologetically prochoice and approach their campaign policy through the lens of reproductive justice. Our candidate engagement team provides mentorship, referrals and strategic consulting to help our candidates win their elections.
In 2018, our 268 endorsed prochoice champion candidates were 80% women, 28% women of color, 12 % LGBTQ and 17% cis-gender, straight white men.
While these numbers are impressive and help tip the scales to a more progressive prochoice nation, we are committed to doing better than this. It’s important to note that we supported prochoice champions in Democratic primaries, all types of down-ballot races, long shot races, and first-time candidates. We know that a talented, supported, prochoice champion is a candidate who will fight for their community and change the face of the country. (Note: there’s nothing that makes us angrier than an anti-choice Democrat. Seriously. Stop it.)
While no single organization can take the credit for a campaign victory, over three years, #VOTEPROCHOICE has worked with over 320 candidates having significant, measurable impact in places like Virginia, Georgia, Nebraska, Texas, and Pennsylvania.
After supporting elections in places like Tennessee, West Virginia, Mississippi, and Missouri, we continue to prove that a prochoice champion candidate can be unapologetically prochoice and support reproductive freedom anywhere in the country and still win an election (or at least not lose because they stand as proudly prochoice).
If you or anyone you know is a prochoice champion running in our priority races, get the #VOTEPROCHOICE Endorsement Application in their hands immediately.
2019 #VOTEPROCHOICE VOTER GUIDE
The #VOTEPROCHOICE Voter Guide is the largest, most comprehensive voter guide in America.
In 2018, we distributed our third national #VOTEPROCHOICE Voter Guide to over 31 million prochoice voters throughout the country.
It includes every race on every ballot, with thousands of progressive prochoice endorsements from over 100 partners. Our partners are everything to us and we are grateful to work with so many amazing groups across the country.
Working with the women-owned civic technology company Ballot Ready, the #VOTEPROCHOICE voter guide has an easy-to-use mobile friendly design that includes polling locations, “make a plan” feature and voting reminders — empowering voters with everything they need to #VOTEPROCHOICE.
The unique addition to our voter guide is that we also add anti-choice and NRA endorsements to ensure total transparency in voting.
It’s a behemoth of a project — and we’re going to do it bigger and better in 2019.
The 2019 #VOTEPROCHOICE Voter Guide will be available everywhere for the November 5, 2019, General Election. Watch for voter guides in our four priority state primaries — KY, LA, MS, VA — and our Local Super Slates in priority municipal primaries.
This year we’re setting an audacious goal to recommend every prochoice champion judge, district attorney and school board candidate on the ballot. Yes. You read that right. If you are a candidate running in any of these races, apply for an endorsement.
Help us reach another audacious goal of delivering over 50 million voter guides this year. Make sure you and all your prochoice friends are signed up to receive the #VOTEPROCHOICE Voter Guide.
#VOTEPROCHOICE DIGITAL INNOVATION
A key to protecting our reproductive freedom is combating the toxic, lying anti-choice propaganda. #VOTEPROCHOICE, in partnership with Democrats.com LLC, continues to quietly lead the way in digital community and voter engagement.
#VOTEPROCHOICE has created strong, positive digital communities to uplift and energize the prochoice nation.
Join the vibrant #VOTEPROCHOICE digital communities on:
#VOTEPROCHOICE Facebook Page — big, bold and proudly prochoice
Prochoice Nation Facebook Group — a cozy group of likeminded activists
#VOTEPROCHOICE Instagram — artists and changemakers
@VoteChoice Twitter — because Twitter.
You will find like-minded members of the prochoice nation ready to support the fight against the antichoice propaganda machine.
For the last three years, #VOTEPROCHOICE has prioritized digital strategy to engage prochoice voters in down-ballot elections — texting, digital voter targeting, email lists, and our voter guide. This year we’re expanding what we’ve learned in hyperlocal races — like Mayors and City Councils — with a layered digital strategy called Digital Field Pipeline. Using best practices in voter targeting and deep canvassing, our digital team will weave prochoice voting scores, voting propensity scores, digital ads, extended texting, and email to fully engage every prochoice voter as directly as possible — digitally. We’re starting with experiments in Kentucky, Ohio and Memphis, Tennessee.
Email email@example.com if digital innovation piques your interest and you want to do some experimenting with us!
PROCHOICE NATION FIGHTS BACK
2019 is a year to stay focused and resolved. As you face the anti-choice hysteria and propaganda machine, we want you to always remember the truth.
- We are a prochoice nation.
- Reproductive freedom is FREEDOM.
- We have all the power we need to win. And we must win.
Prochoice nation, if you vote prochoice in every election, we will win.
In solidarity and power,
Heidi L. Sieck
co-founder/Chief Empowerment Officer
Helpful References and Resources:
National Institute for Reproductive Health Local Reproductive Freedom Index — https://localrepro.org
Guttmacher Institute Research Tools — https://www.guttmacher.org
Rewire Legislative Tracker — https://rewire.news/legislative-tracker