Armed with sunscreen, doorknob fliers and a mission 50 years in the making, the team of activists sporting blue “I Vote Pro-Life” T-shirts fanned out into a web of cul-de-sacs in a subdivision just west of Indianapolis, undeterred by towering rain clouds and 90-degree heat.
It was exactly a week after President Trump had named Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to be his nominee for the Supreme Court, and the group was joking that they had a new sport: Extreme Canvassing.
In short surveys, the teams ask voters about their hopes for Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation and their opposition to abortion funding. Canvassers have knocked at nearly 1.2 million homes nationwide in recent months, and by November, they are slated to reach their goal of 2 million.
“Whenever I’m feeling tired, I say, ‘I’m doing it for the babies,’” said Kaiti Shannon, 19, as she consulted a mobile app to determine which porch with wind chimes to approach.
These are the ground troops of the social conservative movement, who have long dreamed of a nation where abortion is illegal. Ahead of the midterm elections, the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion political group, has dispatched hundreds of these canvassers across six battleground states. They aim to galvanize Americans who oppose abortion but who rarely vote outside presidential races, and to pressure red state Democrats, like Senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana, to support Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
Leaders of the anti-abortion movement believe they are closer than they have been in 50 years to achieving their goals, and local efforts like these are at the heart of their plan to get there. They see this political moment — a White House that advances anti-abortion priorities, a Supreme Court poised to tilt in a conservative direction, and a possible third Supreme Court seat to fill while Mr. Trump is still in office — as a rare opportunity, and one they have worked for years to create.
Some say they feel excited; others are cautiously optimistic. They are all definitely determined.
“Abortion is the single most significant human rights abuse of our time,” said Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life, which has brought tens of thousands of protesters to Washington every year since the Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973. “I have a lot of hope for incremental laws — for example, a late-term abortion ban.”
Already, anti-abortion activists in Indiana hope that one of their laws, which gave a fetus nondiscrimination protections but was struck down in federal appeals court earlier this year, may be the one to challenge Roe v. Wade — if their attorney general appeals to the Supreme Court in the months ahead. But there are dozens of other cases working their way through the courts nationwide, including one involving an Iowa law banning almost all abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, and a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks. Seventeen states have laws that ban abortion after about 20 weeks.
These efforts reflect “a long-term and sophisticated strategy” to gain the upper hand, says Ilyse Hogue, president of the abortion rights organization NARAL. “They’ve been stacking the courts, taking over state legislatures,” she said in an interview, referring to anti-abortion groups. “This has been their plan. This is no doubt the day they have been waiting for.”
Canvassers have knocked at nearly 1.2 million homes in recent months, and by November, they are slated to reach their 2 million goal.
Full story at The New York Times.