New Video Featuring New York State Attorney General Letitia James Highlights the Power of Democratic Attorneys General and the Power of Voters in the Fight for Reproductive Rights
Washington, D.C.— The Democratic Attorneys General Association (DAGA) announced today the committee will only endorse candidates who support the right to access abortion and publicly commit to protecting reproductive rights.The new candidate requirement is the first-of-its-kind for any Democratic campaign committee, reinforcing the commitment of the organization, and its Democratic Attorney General leadership, to protecting reproductive health care for all people, not just a privileged few. There are 12 state Attorneys General seats on the map in 2020.
“As the battle for reproductive rights unfolds at the ballot box, in statehouses, and courtrooms across this country, there is no group of elected officials better positioned to lead the fight for our rights than state Attorneys General,” said DAGA Co-Chair Oregon AG Ellen Rosenblum. “That is why electing Democratic AGs who are committed to protecting reproductive freedom, especially for the most vulnerable communities, has never been more important.”
Starting with the 2020 AG Elections, candidates seeking DAGA’s endorsement and support will need to demonstrate their commitment to standing with the majority of Americans who support the right to access abortion. This means DAGA will only provide financial support, activate digital tools, and engage strategic partners for candidates who publicly commit to protecting the fundamental right that everyone should be able to make their own decision about their health care, including abortion. As part of the next steps on this announcement, Alexis McGill Johnson Acting President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, will join DAGA at their Winter Policy Conference later this week.
“We trust women. Women have the right to make their own decisions,” said Sean Rankin, Executive Director of Democratic Attorneys General Association. “We trust Democratic AGs to defend that right and we trust this committee to elect them.”
“Here at DAGA, we know that Democratic AGs are the backbone of the party and often move on to other offices such as Governor, U.S. Senator, and even President of the United States,” continued Rankin. “This committee is doing our part to ensure these leaders are committed to protecting reproductive rights.”
“We applaud the Democratic Attorneys General Association for its decision to endorse only candidates who are committed to protecting sexual and reproductive health and rights — including safe, legal abortion,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, Acting President and CEO, Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “Attorneys general are some of the most important people protecting our ability to access sexual and reproductive health care — including abortion. Every party should support our right to access health care. This shouldn’t be a Democratic or a Republican value. This is fundamental.”
As part of the announcement, DAGA released a video featuring New York State Attorney General Letitia James highlighting the power of Democratic AGs and the power of voters in the fight for reproductive freedom. The video contrasts the extreme restrictions sweeping the nation and moves to ban access to abortion with the fact that a majority of Americans support a woman’s right to choose. The video closes with AG James reminding viewers that if Democratic Attorneys General candidates stand with DAGA, they stand with the majority of Americans who support protecting reproductive rights.
“The fight to protect women’s reproductive rights is far from over,” said New York State Attorney General Letitia James. “Especially in this current political climate, where a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her own body is under relentless assault, we must persist and redouble our efforts. That’s why as Democratic Attorneys General, we are taking a clear stand on the issue ensuring that we elect Attorneys General to our team who share our pro-choice values.”
Democratic Attorneys General are on the frontlines of the defense against the Trump administration’s attempts to strip health care from the country’s most vulnerable populations. In November 2019, Democratic AG coalitions halted the Trump administration’s efforts to allow health care providers, insurers, and employers to refuse to provide or pay for medical services like abortion that they say violate their religious and moral beliefs. In March, Oregon AG Ellen Rosenblum and New York AG Tish James led a Democratic AG coalition challenging the Trump administration’s Title X “Gag Rule.” Currently still working its way through the courts, the Oregon and New York-led lawsuit previously won a nationwide injunction to temporarily protect funding for critical family planning programs. California AG Xavier Becerra and Washington AG Bob Ferguson were successful in initially obtaining separate preliminary injunctions temporarily halting the “Gag Rule” as well. In January, Pennsylvania AG Josh Shapiro and a coalition of 14 AGs led by California AG Xavier Becerra won back to back injunctions to block the Trump administration’s attempt to allow employers the ability to deny cost-free birth control as guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act. These two separate cases ensured protection for women all over the country. Democratic Attorneys General also play a critical role in state legislative battles across the country.
“In Massachusetts, our office has challenged every attempt to roll back the rights of women to access the reproductive health care they need – and we are going to keep fighting to make sure that Roe remains the law of the land,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, DAGA Executive Committee member. “As we see an alarming trend of states across the country passing laws to restrict access to abortion, it’s more important than ever that we support candidates who are committed to protecting the fundamental rights of women.”
“Pennsylvania has been on the front lines protecting women’s health care—securing a nationwide win to ensure access to no-cost contraception under the Affordable Care Act,” Pennsylvania AG Josh Shapiro, DAGA Executive Committee member. “This is a critical moment as women face attacks on their reproductive rights across our country. Democratic AGs are standing as the shield against those dangerous policies and we won’t waver in our support of women’s health.”
The endorsement process announcement is part of DAGA’s continued evolution as a leading committee. In 2016, DAGA moved from a part-time committee based in Colorado to a full-time organization that won two out of three battleground races going head-to-head with the Republican Attorneys General Association. In 2017, DAGA secured the re-election of Virginia AG Mark Herring and launched a Women’s Initiative to elect more women to the office of state Attorney General with an expressed commitment to equal representation. In 2018, DAGA helped flip four seats blue and elect the most diverse coalition of Democratic Attorneys General in history.
“Reproductive rights are a winning issue. My race in 2018 is a clear example of that,” said Nevada AG Aaron Ford, DAGA Executive Committee member. “Reproductive rights, and therefore fundamental equality in this country, cannot be up for debate—and now as that equality is under constant threat, it is more important than ever to elect leaders who will fight tirelessly to protect reproductive rights.”
For more information about the actions Democratic Attorneys General have taken to protect reproductive health care, view the memo here.