PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June in the Dobbs case that abortion was no longer a protected constitutional right, more women are registering to vote in Pennsylvania.
As KDKA-TV political editor Jon Delano reports, it's an early sign that this issue may play an important role in this November's election.
Kristy Messina, 43, of Brookline has never registered to vote – until now.
"When the Supreme Court made the decision on Roe vs. Wade, it made a lot of us stop and think, what's going on in this country right now?" Messina said.
"And I have three teenage girls that I'm raising, and I have to worry about," she added.
Messina is part of a growing group of women who have registered to vote in Pennsylvania since the decision overturning Roe, says Tom Bonier with Target Smart, a Washington DC-based voter data analytics company.
"Pennsylvania really jumped out at us, where we saw a surge in women registering to vote, a 12-point gender gap," Bonier said.
That's three times the normal gender gap in registration. Bonier says the assumption is that most of these women support abortion rights because of the political party they choose.
"These women who are registering to vote by better than a four-to-one margin are registering as Democrats," says Bonier.
Dr. Dana Brown at the Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University says more women voters could have a profound impact on the race for governor, senator, congress, and the state Legislature.
Delano: "How important are women voters in Pennsylvania?"
Brown: "Women voters are critical in every election. Women have been outvoting men for decades now. We've been out registered for decades."
Of course, women don't vote alike any more than men do, but the abortion rights issue does hit home to more women, says Messina.
"Any decision in the government that has to do with a woman's body at all, it just blows my mind," Messina said.
The study also found that younger women are registering to vote more than ever. Only eight percent of Pennsylvania's registered voters are under the age of 25, but that could change.
"The women who have registered to vote in Pennsylvania since June 24 (when Dobbs was decided,) over 60 percent of them are under the age of 25," says Bonier.
"That's a massive number and does speak to, at least at this moment, a much higher level of engagement than we've seen in mid-term elections among younger voters."
Chatham's Brown is not surprised.
"Polling shows that this generation, the younger generation, is decidedly pro-choice, and so they want to preserve that right even though the U.S. Supreme Court has indicated it does not exist," says Brown.
Motivated by the loss of abortion rights, Messina says she has just registered to vote for the first time and her 19-year-old daughter will register soon.
"She is doing the same as me. She's going to be registering," says Messina.
In governor, U.S. Senate, Congressional, and legislative races, the Republican candidates almost always call themselves pro-life and the Democrats pro-choice. We'll find out if this surge in first-time women voters, especially young women, makes a difference on Nov. 8.
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