” . . . Chief among those mistakes was the relative neglect of grass-roots groups in states where the battle over abortion access has been quietly waged for half a century. A key turning point came in 1992, when the Supreme Court overhauled Roe in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, allowing states to restrict abortion before viability as long as they didn’t impose an “undue burden” on those seeking such care. This opened the door to states chipping away at abortion access through incremental restrictions — a trend that accelerated after the 2010 midterm elections, when a Tea Party-backed wave swept state legislatures.
The Casey decision “could have been, and probably should have been, a moment where abortion-rights organizations funneled attention and resources toward local and state-level organizations,” said Meaghan Winter, author of “All Politics Is Local: Why Progressives Must Fight for the States.” National groups, Ms. Winter said, should have been thinking “in terms of both changing the culture, and building clinics, doing whatever it took on a logistical level to provide access, and thinking about creative ways to build electoral power.”
That didn’t happen — at least not to the extent that it should have.
Instead, Ms. Winter writes, national abortion-rights groups and the progressive movement at large have tended to focus on federal policy and elections and on defending access through federal courts, while neglecting many fights at the state level. While big-name organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood have long maintained a presence in states including Texas, those state groups operate independently and must raise much of their own money.
That often puts groups in conservative states at a disadvantage. For example, the Texas A.C.L.U. — which has the job of opposing attacks on the rights of transgender students and immigrants as well as efforts to roll back abortion access and voting rights — had a budget of about $5 million in 2018, similar to that of its counterpart in the much smaller state of Massachusetts.
Investing in states matters because states are often laboratories for a movement’s boldest ideas — like S.B. 8, with its unusual enforcement mechanism that’s made it extremely difficult for abortion providers to fight it in court.”