Abrams plays offense after Georgia’s anti-abortion law takes effect

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams holds a press conference Wednesday about abortion following a federal appeals court ruling that allowed Georgia’s restrictive abortion law to take place. (Arvin Temkar / arvin.temkar@ajc.com)

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

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Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams holds a press conference Wednesday about abortion following a federal appeals court ruling that allowed Georgia’s restrictive abortion law to take place. (Arvin Temkar / arvin.temkar@ajc.com)

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

Stacey Abrams has long predicted that outrage over the U.S. Supreme Court ruling eliminating the constitutional right to abortion would reshape her campaign for governor. The Democrat is taking new steps to channel that fury into electoral energy.

A day after a federal appeals court allowed the state’s anti-abortion law to immediately take effect, Abrams released a new TV ad blasting Gov. Brian Kemp for signing “extreme” restrictions into law. It’s one of her campaign’s first ads focused on abortion rights.

Abrams also joined other party leaders to warn that Kemp would act with “impunity” and seek stiffer abortion limits if he’s elected to a second term. She promised to relentlessly assail Kemp over the consequences of the law, which bans most abortions as early as six weeks.

And on Thursday she unveiled an internal poll that indicated how backlash over the abortion ruling makes Kemp, the favorite in the November race, more vulnerable in the rematch.

The poll showed that voters oppose the abortion restrictions by a margin of 20 percentage points (56% to 36%) — and a higher split among independents. A broad majority of Democratic voters — 88% — say abortion rights make them more motivated to vote.

In her rematch with Kemp, she’s repeatedly tried to one-up the governor with proposals to hike teacher pay, raise law enforcement salaries and provide taxpayer rebates that go beyond what the Republican incumbent has proposed.

But her campaign frames the abortion rights divide as a crystallizing issue that could threaten Kemp’s advantage. The governor took a muted victory lap, declaring that he was “overjoyed” with the ruling before highlighting new economic development initiatives.

With polls showing Georgia voters tend to see higher inflation and other fiscal issues as the dominant factor, Abrams appealed to voters frustrated by inflation but disgusted with the ruling to consider whether their financial worries “outweigh your concerns about your constitutional protected rights.”

“Georgia is part of a nation that faces economic vicissitudes,” she said. “Things go up, things go down. But this law is permanent.”

As Georgians prepare to vote, Abrams said, Democrats will step up efforts to underline the impact of the anti-abortion restrictions with left-leaning supporters as well as middle-of-the-road voters and moderate Republicans who oppose the new law.

And she renewed vows to overturn the law if she’s elected, which she said would be a top priority if she becomes governor. It’s an unlikely prospect in a Legislature that’s likely to remain in Republican control barring a tidal wave of Democratic votes that wipe out GOP incumbents in districts drawn to protect them.

“That law is going to put women in danger,” she said, “and for the next 16 weeks we’re going to hear story after story — just like we’re hearing in Texas and in Indiana and in Ohio — of women forced to make draconian choices because the governors of those states don’t trust them.”