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EMILY's List is backing Democratic female candidates who support abortion rights

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Reproductive rights groups have been fighting to protect abortion access since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. EMILY's List is backing women Democrats running for office who support abortion rights. The group recently endorsed Vice President Kamala Harris for reelection in 2024, and they do that as Harris continues to see low approval ratings. EMILY's List plans on investing tens of millions of dollars to boost her public image. I spoke to Laphonza Butler, the president of EMILY's List, about the strategy behind the group's push for Harris.

LAPHONZA BUTLER: What our effort currently is focused on, in addition to endorsing her, is to remind the American people just how dedicated of a public servant she has been throughout her career in public service.

FADEL: Do you think a lot of that has gotten lost? I mean, because true or not, there is a perception out there that she's somewhat absent in her role, and that's showing in the polls. I mean, is that why you're making this massive investment?

BUTLER: I think what is present in the polls is continued mis- and disinformation about the work that she is doing. And what we want to be able to do with our work is fundamentally correct the record. And I would say nothing that we are intending to do is about defending the vice president. What we want to do is advance what people know about the work that she has been doing her entire career.

FADEL: The last time there was a presidential election, Roe v. Wade was the law of the land, and it was considered settled law at the time. And so EMILY's List's mission, I guess it's taken on a different meaning in 2024. I would love to hear specifically how the strategy has shifted because the landscape has shifted since 2020.

BUTLER: The Dobbs decision has highlighted the importance of the strategy of EMILY's List, the work that we have been doing over many years to focus on electing Democratic pro-choice women at every level of the ballot. We were there with Governor Whitmer when she was running for governor. There is - there are pro-choice state legislatures in both Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico. There are states all over this country where you can see the real impact of the work that EMILY's List has been doing.

FADEL: You mentioned the importance of local races, state races and attorney general races, as access to abortion care, reproductive care is different state to state now that it's not federal law. When you're looking state to state, is there some specific places where you're spending more and you're looking more than others?

BUTLER: We have taken the approach - taken our strategy and are really evaluating the spaces in which Republican-dominated state legislatures have already stripped away rights to reproductive care. And we have to be looking at states in the southeastern region of this country where millions of women and people who need to access abortion care now don't have access. We continue to evaluate our investments in states like North Carolina. We've got to make sure that we're leaving no stone unturned and leaving no voter or family behind when we think about the care that millions of families need, and the entire southeastern region of the country has to be at the top of everyone's attention.

FADEL: Laphonza Butler, president of EMILY's List.

Thank you for your time.

BUTLER: Of course. Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF INBAR FRIDMAN'S "DARK SONG FOR A CLEAR DAY") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.