The Wash
Rally about reproductive rights

Democrats warn: Primary highlights tie between democracy and reproductive rights

Concerns arise among the left that democracy is on the ballot.

MANCHESTER, N.H.– On the anniversaries of Roe v. Wade and Citizens United v. FEC, advocates and members of the New Hampshire Congressional and state legislative delegation gathered to spread their message of worry for the future.

“Our freedoms are at the core of what’s at stake in 2024,” said Tiffany Muller, president of the nonprofit End Citizens United. “Our freedom over our own body, our freedom over voting, our freedom over what books we read, who we marry, who we love, and the fundamental foundations of our democracy.”

The Supreme Court’s Citizens United case of 2010 created an equivalence between money and free speech that had never previously existed, essentially putting a “for sale sign” on democracy in the U.S., she said.

Muller tied the decision to limit regulations on campaign contributions from corporations and the funding of restrictions on reproductive freedoms, such as the Dobbs decisions that overturned Roe v. Wade, the 2022 case protecting the right to an abortion. 

“In no issue is it more apparent what money has done than in undermining Roe and our fundamental right to an abortion,” Muller said.

The group of activists and politicians urged that writing in President Joe Biden for the nominee on the Democratic primary ballot Tuesday was the best way to try to restore democracy.

When U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., thought about what’s at stake on the primary ballot, she said she knew it wasn’t simply reproductive freedom. 

“It’s the very strength of democracy that’s on the ballot tomorrow,” Shaheen said.

Mini Timmaraju, president of Reproductive Freedom for All, said opposing or refusing to endorse candidates who don’t support voting rights is important to the cause. Voting rights are critical to the organization’s mission, the future, and the freedom of reproductive rights in the country, she said.

While some voters agree that democracy and reproductive freedoms are connected, not all said that writing in Biden on the ballot is the only way to save both. Savana Melanson, a voter from Londonderry, N.H., said that at the end of the day, any Democratic candidate on the ballot has reproductive rights as a top priority.

Photo of a voter concerned about reproductive rights
Savana Melanson of Londonderry left the polls with reproductive rights top of mind. (Katherine Hapgood/The Wash)

However, a female democratic candidate would be a better choice, which is one of the reasons she voted for an alternative Democratic candidate, Marianne Williamson, on Tuesday.

“I also think that’s a big reason why we need a woman in office,” Melanson said, “Someone who could have been or could be affected by this and maybe has a little bit of a better understanding of it.”

The restriction of reproductive rights represents a time before women were full U.S. citizens — before they could vote, open their own credit cards or own their own homes — a step back in progress and a feeling that democracy is threatened, she said.


Katherine Hapgood

I am a fellow at the Center for Public Integrity and a graduate student at American University studying investigative journalism and public affairs. This semester, I am covering the neighborhoods of Foggy Bottom and the West End. I primarily cover government access, accountability, and report on equity.

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