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In its first ad of the 2024 cycle, Planned Parenthood pins GOP candidates on abortion

Protesters make their way to the Wisconsin Capitol Rotunda during a march to support overturning Wisconsin's near total ban on abortion on Jan. 22 in Madison, Wis.
Morry Gash
/
AP
Protesters make their way to the Wisconsin Capitol Rotunda during a march to support overturning Wisconsin's near total ban on abortion on Jan. 22 in Madison, Wis.

Planned Parenthood is launching its first campaign ad of the 2024 presidential election cycle in Wisconsin, just ahead of the first Republican primary debate Wednesday night in Milwaukee.

The new ad, airing on social media and streaming platforms, includes a collage of past statements from several Republican presidential candidates expressing support for national legislation restricting abortion.

"The voters in this particular ad are hearing directly from the candidates about their views on abortion," said Jenny Lawson, executive director of Planned Parenthood Votes. "And no matter what they try to do on the debate stage, we will have put that information in front of them."

The ad opens with a clip of former Vice President Mike Pence, who has made his opposition to abortion rights a key part of his pitch, calling on "every Republican candidate" to support at least a national ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. It also highlights prior comments from former President Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former United Nations Ambassador and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott.

Republicans currently lack the votes to get any abortion ban through both chambers of Congress, but anti-abortion groups have been pushing Republican candidates to advocate for national restrictions.

Planned Parenthood officials say they're kicking off the presidential election cycle with a five-figure ad buy targeting Wisconsin voters and plan more expenditures related to the presidential campaign next year.

Already, the U.S. Supreme Court's Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization decision, overturning decades of abortions rights precedent, has allowed laws banning most or all abortions to take effect in more than a dozen states.

In Wisconsin - where top Republican candidates, with the notable exception of Trump, are meeting for the first debate - residents have been almost entirely without access to abortion since the Supreme Court released its decision in June 2022. The ruling triggered legal uncertainty surrounding an 1849 state law that has been interpreted as prohibiting most abortions.

Analiese Eicher, a communications consultant with Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, says the organization has been forced to stop providing abortions while a court challenge is underway.

"The Dobbs decision came down and we had to go out into waiting rooms and say, 'Hey, we're really sorry, we're unable to provide you with your healthcare today," Eicher explained.

Democrats hope concerns about eroding abortion access around the country will help drive voters to turn out for President Biden next year. Their goal is to build on election successes in 2022, when voters in several states voted to support abortion rights when the issue was on the ballot.

"It will be the driving force in the next presidential election and in races up and down the ballot it will be a key issue," Lawson predicted.

Republicans pushing for national restrictions point to polling that suggests support for limitations on abortion later in pregnancy. A majority of Americans say they support the framework that existed under Roe v. Wade.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Sarah McCammon is a National Correspondent covering the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast for NPR. Her work focuses on political, social and cultural divides in America, including abortion and reproductive rights, and the intersections of politics and religion. She's also a frequent guest host for NPR news magazines, podcasts and special coverage.