The abortion-rights message that some activists hate

The commercials all highlight Republicans’ most extreme positions on abortion, darkly warning about the consequences of electing them to govern. That focus is surely familiar to voters, because it’s been the Democrats’ go-to tactic on abortion for years. Many abortion-rights activists, however, are sick of hearing it.

“These are scare-tactic videos meant to frighten people,” Kate Kelly, a human-rights activist and progressive campaign organizer, told me after I played her the ads from Cortez-Masto and Hassan. “I don’t want to hear, This is what these dumb and terrible bad men think,” she said. “I want to hear: What is your solution?”

Kelly works with Shout Your Abortion, an activist group that seeks to normalize abortion and expand access to the procedure even where it is now all but illegal. To the organization’s founders, airing ads that highlight the most right-wing GOP laws and proposals, such as those that bar abortion even in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is threatened, “stigmatizes everyone else who wants to get an abortion or needs an abortion,” Kelly said. “Focusing on the very extreme and tragic cases of rape or incest says that those are the people who are worthy and deserving. And the discourse has moved so far beyond that.”