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'Women are angry, determined': What's at stake in the battle for reproductive rights this November

The presidents of Planned Parenthood, Emily’s List and NARAL join “Morning Joe” for the first time together to discuss their get-out-the-vote effort and how women are galvanizing around abortion rights before the midterm elections.
Abortion rights advocates protest outside the Supreme Court
Abortion rights advocates protest outside the Supreme Court during the "Bans Off Our Bodies" rally in Washington, D.C. on May 14, 2022.Valerie Plesch for NBC News

In the final days before the November midterm elections, abortion rights have taken center stage for voters across the country. According to a new ABC News/IPSOS poll, 62 percent of registered voters believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Additionally, a September ABC News/Washington Post poll revealed 64 percent of Americans broadly rejected the U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.

On Monday, Planned Parenthood president Alexis McGill Johnson, Emily’s List president Laphonza Butler and NARAL’s president Mini Timmaraju appeared together for the first time on “Morning Joe” to discuss their coalition to mobilize a nationwide get-out-the vote effort, speaking with women directly about the top-of-mind issue.

Johnson – who leads Planned Parenthood – has crisscrossed the country campaigning in states like Arizona with Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and later teaming up with Cheri Beasley, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in North Carolina.

“Our strategy is to tirelessly work with people who deeply care about this issue, who understand that abortion is a freedom issue,” she told “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski. “It is an economic issue, it is a health issue [and] we’re focused on Senate races and governor’s races because we want to get to 52 [Democratic Senate seats] for federal legislation, and we know that governors are going to be incredibly important backstops in the event that we are not able to do that.”

Likewise, Laphonza Butler – the first woman of color to lead Emily’s List – just came from North Carolina and heads to Las Vegas, Atlanta and the state of Michigan to support Democratic pro-choice candidates. "Everything that I have heard across the country is that women are angry and they are determined,” she told Brzezinski. “They are determined to maintain their reproductive freedom and they are determined to elect leaders who are going to stand with them.”

According to NARAL, their midterm program has targeted college campuses, including reaching voters through phone banking, door knocking, youth organizing and canvassing. Their efforts have been aimed at supporting pro-choice candidates and ballot initiatives in Pennsylvania, Georgia, California, Michigan, Arizona, and Nevada.

“We know the majority of Americans are with us, even before the leak, before the decision [to overturn Roe v. Wade], they were with us on this issue of legal abortion,” said Timmaraju, also the first woman of color to lead NARAL. “One of the reasons we’re focused on college campuses is this is the first generation of folks entering their reproductive lives with a major, fundamental right taken away from them … we know if we can get out people out, we will win this election.”

With just one week until Election Day, Brzezinski called on each of them to make a closing pitch for what’s at stake, especially when it comes to women who have not yet decided who will win their vote.

“We know that the majority of people who seek access to abortion are already mothers,” said Johnson. “They know what it means to control their own bodies and to have this right taken away – to understand that we really want people to vote because we trust women to make decisions about their own bodies.”

Butler emphasized that women’s fundamental freedoms are at stake. “Whether we’re talking about reproductive freedom, economic freedom, the freedom to live in a clean environment for generations to come, our fundamental freedoms are on the ballot this November,” she added. “We do not need politicians or elected officials in our doctors’ offices, . we have to trust that women and their doctors are going to make the best decisions for themselves and their families.”

Timmaraju hoped that message would resonate with Republican and independent voters. “There’s no more fundamental economic issue than the decision when, if and how to have your family,” she said. “[For] Republican and independent voters … there is a place for you in our coalition. We may not agree on every issue but this is the most fundamental issue of our lifetime, especially for women and people in the beginning of their reproductive lives.”