Last week’s shocking leak exposing the Supreme Court’s draft plan to overturn Roe v. Wade has brought tens of thousands of people into the streets in struggle. But for the electoral opportunists in the Democratic Party, the Court’s possible ruling–which would dismantle federal abortion protection, leading to its criminalization in more than half of all U.S. states–has essentially become a source of hope.
Despite enjoying control of the Senate, the House of Representatives and the presidency, the Democrats have used this moment to claim that the only way to save Roe is by voting for them in the midterm election in November. This position assumes that the draft decision is a done deal and undercuts the people’s movements that are currently demonstrating to force the court to change the final ruling. And it conveniently ignores that the Women’s Health Protection Act, which has been sitting in Congress for months, could be passed at any time to codify abortion protections into law before next month’s Supreme Court decision.
Amid dire poll numbers, an unenergized base and a terribly unpopular president, Democrats at all levels of government seized the opportunity to call for vote pledges and donations. Mass texts went out asking people to “Rush $15 to the DNC.” By Wednesday, donations through ActBlue, their main fundraising platform, exceeded $12 million.
The Democrats’ framing is that they are simply powerless to do anything unless people “march straight to the ballot box,” as Sen. Amy Klobuchar put it. But that is not true. Democrats in the Senate, without any Republican votes, could end the filibuster–the undemocratic rule that requires 60 votes, instead of a simple majority, to pass most pieces of legislation.
This would allow the Democrats to then pass the Women’s Health Protection Act in the Senate, likewise with no Republican votes. The bill has already passed the House of Representatives. But instead, Democratic Party leaders are going ahead with a doomed-to-fail symbolic vote in the Senate this week without eliminating the filibuster.
What is really needed is action right now to defeat the anti-women bigots and prevent the overturn of federal abortion rights from coming to pass. The Democratic Party has routinely declined to codify Roe at any point when they controlled Congress over the last 49 years. For example, Barack Obama campaigned on the promise that codifying Roe would be his first action in office but left the law untouched while Democrats had total control of Congress.
Likewise, Biden stated after the draft ruling leak that “it will fall on voters to elect pro-choice officials this November” in order to “adopt legislation that codifies Roe, which I will work to pass and sign into law.” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer issued a similar joint statement, with the central theme being that “[The] elections this November will have consequences, because the rights of a hundred million women are now on the ballot.” Christie Roberts, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, stated that “At this critical moment, we must protect and expand Democrats’ Senate majority with the power to confirm or reject Supreme Court justices.” An article from NBC admitted that without this crisis moment, the Democrats would have faced “a bloodbath of a midterm election for an otherwise disillusioned party.”
But as can be seen in cities and towns across the country, thousands of people know that the real way forward is to take to the streets and demand their rights be respected. The Supreme Court draft decision is not final, and even the most powerful figures can crack under the pressure of the people’s resistance to this highly unpopular potential ruling. Mass protests surging across the country are just a taste of the consequences to come if the decision is finalized. There is time to fight now–not in November.