June 24 marks the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision — ending almost 50 years of federal abortion rights protections and spurring a patchwork system of state legislation to ban or protect abortion access.
Despite the flurry of state legislation and executive orders affecting abortion access, the amount of money advocacy organizations on both sides of the issue spent lobbying about abortion policy at the state level stayed about the same in 2022 as 2021, with around $1.9 million spent across the 19 states tracked by OpenSecrets.
Meanwhile, federal lobbying spending on abortion flourished in 2022. Anti-abortion rights groups spent an all-time high of $1.5 million and abortion rights groups spent $2.2 million, a jump from previous years.
During the first three months of 2023, abortion rights groups spent $700,084 on federal lobbying, compared with the anti-abortion rights lobby’s $380,000. For anti-abortion rights groups, this is a slight increase compared to 2022’s first-quarter spending, which totaled $370,000. Spending has increased on the abortion rights side compared to the first quarter of 2022, where they spent $595,390.
With a total of $12.6 million in contributions from both sides, individuals and groups on both sides of the issue spent more money than they did in any other midterm in history. Throughout the 2022 midterm cycle, individuals and affiliates of abortion rights groups federally contributed $9.9 million. Individuals and affiliates of anti-abortion rights groups contributed $2.7 million during the 2022 cycle.
Massive midterm election spending by both sides was still an overall decrease from 2020 election contributions, which saw unprecedented spending from both sides. During the 2020 election cycle, anti-abortion rights contributions reached $6.4 million and abortion rights spending reached $11.1 million.
The top contributor for anti-abortion rights causes during the 2022 cycle was individuals and PACs affiliated with Right to Life, a nationwide anti-abortion rights organization made up of state and local affiliate chapters that contributed $1.3 million to federal candidates and political committees. Right to Life contributors unseated long-time anti-abortion rights top contributor, individuals and PACs associated with Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion rights nonprofit organization that had been the top contributor in all election cycles from 2008 until 2020.
Meanwhile, the Dobbs ruling did not shake up contributor norms on the abortion rights side. The top giver remained Planned Parenthood, which saw individuals and PACs affiliated with the nonprofit donate nearly $5 million to federal candidates and political committees. The reproductive and sexual healthcare provider has been the top contributor to federal political candidates and committees in every election cycle since 2006.
Abortion also remains a heavily polarized issue, as highlighted by both sides’ spending habits. In 2022, 100% of abortion rights contributions went to Democrats, while 99% anti-abortion rights contributions went to Republicans. Anti-abortion rights contributions made to Democrats included contributions to a Democrat candidate in Illinois’ 1st Congressional District, Chris Butler, who ran on an anti-abortion platform focused on finding “a holistic approach to ending abortion,” and received $16,750 in contributions.
2022 was anti-abortion rights’ biggest lobbying spending year, with lobbying spending totalling $1.5 million. The biggest spender on anti-abortion rights lobbying in 2022 was Susan B. Anthony List, spending a total of $1.2 million. The group spent the most during the third quarter of the lobbying year, the first lobbying quarter to occur after the Dobbs ruling, spending $310,000.
Abortion rights causes outspent anti-abortion rights groups on federal lobbying in 2022, spending a total of $2.2 million. Planned Parenthood spent $1.2 million on both in-house and outside lobbying, more than any other abortion rights group. The organization spent the most on lobbying during the second quarter of the lobbying year – the quarter during which the Dobbs draft leak occurred and the Dobbs ruling was announced – spending over $569,000.
While abortion rights groups did outspend anti-abortion rights groups, this was not a record-setting lobbying year for them. Abortion rights groups spent more on lobbying in both 2014 and 2017.
During the first three months of 2023, abortion rights causes continued to spend more than anti-abortion rights causes. Abortion rights lobbying expenses for the first quarter totaled $700,084, while anti-abortion rights lobbying totaled $380,000.
The biggest spender in state lobbying over the past several years has been Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California — the group spent $847,100 in 2022. Other pro-abortion rights groups, such as Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, Planned Parenthood of Southern New England and Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains led the pack in state lobbying spending in 2022 as well, mirroring federal lobbying trends of abortion rights efforts outspending anti-abortion rights efforts.
So far in 2023, anti-abortion rights group Texas Right to Life – the Texas affiliate of top federal spender Right to Life – is leading in lobbying expenses overall, spending $141,520. The second-biggest spending group so far this year has also been a Texas-based anti-abortion rights group, Texas Alliance for Life, which spent $121,320.
Texas has a near-total ban on abortion, except to save the life of a pregnant patient, but was considering adding additional criminal penalties for “furnishing the means” for or “aiding and abetting” in an abortion during its legislative session – measures that did not gain traction in the legislature, failing to go to vote.
Besides the two Texas groups, organizations such as Oregon Right to Life and HUMAN LIFE of Washington – state affiliates of Right to Life – spent thousands of dollars on state lobbying efforts. Abortion remains legal and accessible in both states.