How far have women come, really?
Women’s Equality Day was celebrated on Friday to commemorate the 19th Amendment granting (white) women the right to vote in 1920. (It wasn’t until the 1965 Voting Rights Act that Black women were granted the same right.) Many female voters and politicians used the anniversary to note that the recent reversal of Roe v. Wade, which had legalized abortion across the United States for decades, indicates that many American women are still fighting for equal rights.
And this could have an impact on the November midterm elections, when Democrats’ control of the House and Senate hangs in the balance.
“Women, know your power and show your power. We are NOT going back!” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, tweeted Friday. She also tweeted — rather optimistically — that Democrats will still hold the House and add at least two new senators come November. And she suggested a larger Democratic majority in Congress could break the filibuster and codify Roe v. Wade.
Fellow Democrat and California Rep. Katie Porter also tweeted that “Gender equity depends on Americans being free to decide for themselves if and when to have children,” along with the hashtag #WomensEqualityDay.
That hashtag continued to trend on Friday as many users took the opportunity to discuss abortion rights and the pending midterm elections.
Indeed, while the economy remains the most pressing issue for many voters heading into the midterm elections, abortion has been rising as an important voting issue — especially among Democrats — in the two months since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, according to Pew Research Center findings released this week.
Pew surveyed 7,647 adults, including 5,681 registered voters, between Aug. 1 and Aug. 14, with polling largely completed before the FBI search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence, and President Biden signing the Inflation Reduction Act and forgiving student loan debt for millions of Americans.
Most registered voters (56%) said abortion rights will be very important in their midterm vote, up from 43% in March. And almost all of that increase comes from Democrats, as 71% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning registered voters rated abortion as “very important” — a huge bump compared to March, when less than half (46%) said the same. But views among Republicans and GOP leaners have shown almost no change since then (41% now vs. 40% then).
In June, the percentage of Americans identifying as “pro-choice” hit 55%, according to a Gallup poll taken after the draft of the Supreme Court decision addressing abortion was first leaked. That’s the highest that “pro-choice” sentiment has been in the U.S. since 1995, when it was 56%.
Polling data shows that a majority of Americans think that Roe v. Wade should not have been overturned. According to a January poll from CNN, 69% of Americans wanted to keep Roe v. Wade intact, while just 30% wanted the ruling completely overturned. This support has remained fairly consistent for more than 20 years. Since 1989, between 52% and 66% of U.S. adults have said they want Roe v. Wade to remain, according to polling conducted and compiled by Gallup.
An NBC News poll this week also found that 21% of voters think the most important issue facing the country today is “threats to democracy.”