By Sam Dorman
Published January 17, 2020
Major groups from both sides of the abortion debate are planning to pour their vast resources into the 2020 elections, with leaders portraying the results as more consequential than in previous years.
Susan B. Anthony List, which focuses on electing pro-life candidates, announced on Friday that it would deploy a massive grassroots effort to educate swing-state voters about what they call "extreme pro-abortion positions" of Democratic candidates. It's already visited 460,000 homes in battleground states and is expecting to make 4 milion visits before November.
"From now until Election Day, our team will go door-to-door visiting traditional Democrat voter groups who may simply be unaware of the Democrats’ support for extreme pro-abortion policies," Mallory Quigley, SBA List national spokeswoman, said in a press release.
"Our focused, battle-tested voter outreach method will ensure we reach the voters who can provide President Trump and pro-life Senate candidates the winning margin on Election Day.” The group's overall budget for the cycle totals $52 million.
While it's unclear how exactly that budget will be allocated, the group will have to counter the influence of Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider, as it rolls out its most ambitious electoral effort to date.
Launched on Thursday, the group's 2020 effort entails at least $45 million in spending on tactics like grassroots organizing, polling and paid advertisements. It will focus on nine key swing states: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
In addition to SBA List, groups like Concerned Women for America (CWA), and Heritage Action are similarly planning nationwide efforts to galvanize voters towards pro-life victories.
CWA President Penny Young Nance told Fox News on Friday that her group is readying a $1 million effort that includes digital and radio ads in addition to earned media. That number will likely grow as the group plans to continue raising money over the year.
The focus will be on "more local activities," she said, noting that her organization would hold a bus tour rallying conservative women before the election.
The large-scale spending came as both sides encountered a wave of state-level laws on abortion, in addition to what pro-choice advocates say is a serious assault on the organization. Pro-life activists have claimed they are literally trying to save lives by imposing restrictions like the heartbeat bill, which would prohibit abortions after a doctor can detect a heartbeat.
Planned Parenthood responded to pro-life measures with a long list of legal challenges -- approximately 40 open cases, according to its most recent annual report -- and was able to salvage Missouri's last abortion clinic amid restrictive legislation.
For 2020, Heritage Action won't engage in state-level policy fights but does plan on working towards pro-life wins at the national level. It plans to knock on over half a million doors in Wisconsin, Iowa, North Carolina and Pennsylvania in order to talk to voters about a variety of issues, including abortion. "We'll also be recruiting volunteers, running online and social ad campaigns, and holding rallies for our policy agenda," Heritage Action spokesman Noah Weinrich told Fox News.
Behind all of these groups is an eager Republican National Committee (RNC), which has maintained extensive outreach with faith communities. That includes voter registration, volunteer recruitment, as well as meeting with community leaders and stakeholders.
"[T]he Democrat Party has made it clear that there is no room for pro-life supporters in their Party, choosing instead to support radical positions like infanticide. It is as important as ever that we re-elect President Trump and other Republicans who support life and will appoint judges who will defend the voiceless.” Cassie Smedile, an RNC spokeswoman, said in a statement provided to Fox News.
Pro-choice groups like EMILY's List, SBA's liberal counterpart, and NARAL will likely make substantial contributions to the election cycle as well. They, along with Planned Parenthood, have denounced a series of Trump administration policies geared towards hindering abortion access.
Those policies will likely take center stage in purple states like Illinois where Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., a pro-life Democrat, faces a primary challenge from a progressive challenger who's received Planned Parenthood's endorsement.
Democrats for Life President Kristen Day said her organization is endorsing Lipinski and will continue pushing for viewpoint diversity within the party. SBA List also plans to support Lipinski in his primary campaign.
"Planned Parenthood really wants to target and silence pro-life democrats who make up a third of the Party. They bully and target pro-life Democrats into silence instead of dialogue. They do not represent Democratic principles that call for diversity and inclusion," Day told Fox News.
It's likely that voters are already energized over the issue after Justice Kavanaugh's confirmation and the administration's decision to condition Title X funding on whether clinics refer clients for abortions.
Earlier this week, Gallup released polling that showed abortion as the eighth most important issue for U.S. adults before 2020. Twenty-five percent of those polled said abortion was "extremely important," slightly lower than the 26 percent who said the same about climate change. Wealth inequality similarly received 25 percent.
When examining the percentage of adults who said abortion was "extremely" or "very important" to their vote, the percentage was higher -- outpacing climate change by nine percentage points (64 percent compared to 55 percent).
Due to the so-called "gag rule," Planned Parenthood effectively lost access to a program that has provided it about $60 million in federal grant money. A Democratic president could presumably remove that rule and restore funding -- dashing conservative hopes that the money would go towards pro-life pregnancy centers.
Without a Republican in office, pro-life groups also face the prospect of an unprecedented amount of taxpayer money flowing toward abortion clinics. The lineup of 2020 Democrats has vowed to repeal the Hyde Amendment, a decades-old measure restricting federal funding for most abortions.