2024 tactics for fighting an 1864 abortion ban (and other news)

Indivisible Guide
7 min readApr 22, 2024


By Ezra Levin, Indivisible Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director

In these newsletters, we keep our eye on our North Star — rebuilding the Dem trifecta to codify abortion rights and pass democracy reform. While staying focused on that, we cover the same three things every couple-ish weeks — what’s in the news, what we have to be proud of, and what we’re discussing in the movement. These can be long…so I’m bowing to popular demand and including a summary at the top this time:

The News: Trump and Republicans are scared as hell of the political impact of their fight to ban abortions. They are going to lie and obfuscate, and we have to break through that to win.

The Brag: In the face of a Civil War-era abortion ban, local Indivisible groups are gathering signatures to get an abortion rights referendum on the ballot, earning media hits to focus public attention on the Republicans’ culpability, and organizing to turn the state blue. This is good for Arizona and great for the country.

The Discussion: Leah and I are going to host an informal chat this Wednesday at 4pm ET/1pm PT. Nothing fancy — just time for the movement to do some live Q&A as an extension of these newsletters. Register here if you want to join the chat (and it’d help us to know there’s interest!).

The News: The GOP is scrambling on abortion — this is the story of this election.

Two weeks ago, Trump made an announcement on abortion that reveals very little about his own position but a lot about the state of the race and how very, very frightened the GOP is. It’s worth digging in, because there’s a lot here that has implications for the next 6.5 months.

Trump’s history of anti-choice extremism. Before we get to that “new” position, let’s do a quick refresher on Trump’s position going back to 2011:

There’s a lot about Trump that can be hard to nail down, but his record on abortion rights is crystal clear: He wants to take those rights away.

Trump’s new big lie. But then came Trump’s announcement. He claimed he now supported letting states, rather than the federal government, set abortion policy.

Why the switch? Trump told us why. In his own damn statement announcing this “new” position he explicitly said he had to make the statement for political purposes. To quote the jackass, “You must follow your heart on this issue, but remember, you must also win elections….” He effectively said, “Hey sorry, I have to lie about this to win votes,” and then proceeded to lie about it.

But as soon as he gets into office, we know what he’ll do because his coalition has literally published the plan for what they’ll do if he wins. He’ll sign a national abortion ban if Congress sends it to him, and he’ll use the administrative power of the FDA, DOJ, and Department of Health and Human Services to severely limit abortion rights unilaterally without Congress — even in blue states. We know this because all of this is spelled out in MAGA’s 900-page governing agenda ominously titled “Project 2025.”

Why the media’s failure to cover Trump’s lies matter. The immediate reaction from the media was to take the telegraphed lie at face value. I won’t link to the barrage of favorable articles praising Trump’s “moderation.” Instead, I’ll link to Rachel Maddow’s satisfyingly thorough takedown of the media’s initial response to Trump’s announcement.

Trump’s announcement was a farce. He doesn’t have a new position. He’s just lying. And large swathes of the media, at least initially, were willing to just report that lie as reality.

The problem goes beyond Trump. In Arizona, Kari Lake, an infamously right-wing candidate who praised a total abortion ban in Arizona less than 2 years ago is now trying to present herself as pro-choice. The Christian Nationalist Speaker of the House Mike Johnson plays dumb when asked about a national abortion ban even though he is literally a cosponsor of the “Life Begins At Conception Act” (along with most House Republicans).

This is a GOP-wide strategy. Their plan over the next 6.5 months is to lie and obfuscate about abortion because they know if they state the positions they actually hold and have publicly held for years, they’ll lose.

Our challenge is this: We have to cut through the bullshit. You and I both know the Republicans are lying. But we’re not the target audience for their lies. They want the disaffected and “double-hater” voters who distrust both sides to go into the polling booth thinking, “the GOP isn’t so bad on abortion, so I’m going to vote on other issues.” Our job over the next 6.5 months is to bring the truth to these voters: The GOP is an existential threat to our rights and freedoms. The contrast could not be clearer: Donald Trump and the Republicans will take away your rights, and Joe Biden and the Democrats will codify your rights.

It’s fascism or freedom on the ballot this November. Or as the posters say, Roevember is coming.

The Brag: We’re on the frontlines of defeating MAGA’s attacks on our rights.

The fight over abortion rights just got supercharged. The Arizona Supreme Court, which is composed entirely of Republicans appointees, reinstated a Civil War-era abortion ban for the state a day after Trump declared states should decide. This archaic, horrifying law dates back to 1864 (literally pre-statehood), has no exceptions for rape or incest, and criminalizes performing or helping someone obtain an abortion unless necessary to save their life.

This is among the most reactionary abortion bans in the country. It was made possible by Trump killing Roe and Republicans in the state passing a law that explicitly allowed the court to reinstate the 1864 ban.

Since then, Democrats in the state legislature have tried to push forward a repeal of the 1864 ban. Republicans — who narrowly control both the state House and Senate — blocked efforts to repeal not once, not twice, not three times, but TEN TIMES.

The response to the Republicans on the Supreme Court and in the legislature has been massive. Think of the Dobbs ruling in 2022 localized just in Arizona.

And Indivisible has been helping fuel that response in the state. In Sedona, Flagstaff, Prescott, Scottsdale, Peoria, Tucson, and Phoenix, Indivisible groups have been leading public events and getting earned media across the state. As Indivisible’s Mari Urbina told NPR in Arizona, our sign-ups for volunteers to collect signatures surged 50% in the state, and we’ve had people come in from 61 cities spread across every congressional district in the state — blue, purple, and red.

We will win this fight, but only if we do the work. As organizers, yes, we want Arizonans mad at Republicans for taking away their rights — assigning blame is an important part of the political process. But we don’t just want people to feel pissed off at the Republicans coming after their rights — we want them to see they can be an active part of fighting back. The state legislature is flippable. The 1st and 6th congressional districts are flippable too. Gallego can defeat Kari Lake to deliver us the Senate. And we can win those 11 electoral college votes to deliver the White House to Biden. We can make Republicans pay for their actions, and then we can start to undo the damage they’ve done.

That’s the plan at least! If you know folks in Arizona who want to help on the ground — please send them our way. And if you want to send some grassroots dollars in to help make this plan happen on the ground, please support our Arizona PAC here.

One note: I got a question in the newsletter asking what we do with money we don’t spend. For Arizona, there’s not really such a thing — practically every dollar we take into the Arizona PAC is going to be spent on supporting this work in Arizona this year. We’re not saving for a rainy day — 2024 is that rainy day. Money for groups, paying for organizers, helping events win local press, training volunteers to talk to voters and collect signatures — if you think this sounds good, well, that’s what you’re buying when you throw in a few bucks.

Support our activists in Arizona

The Discussion: How about we try talking in real life?

One of the highlights from writing these newsletters has been reading all your replies. But one thing that frustrates me is I can’t directly respond to a lot of questions that come in. In addition to having a problem writing too much, I also enjoy talking too much, so I thought we’d try something out this week. Wednesday at 4pm ET/1pm PT Leah and I will be available for a Zoom chat (register here to let us know there’s interest). We’ll spend a minute giving an overview of what I covered here (and any updates), but we’ll save the bulk of the time for taking questions from you and others who join. Nothing fancy — just a conversation in the movement.

If there’s appetite for this, we’ll do more, so this isn’t your last chance. But if you’re really bummed you can’t make this one (or if you really want us to schedule one of these in the evening after we put Zeke and Lila down instead of during the workday), let us know here. This is experimental — we just want to do it if it’s helpful to folks.

Hope to see some of you on Wednesday.



Indivisible Guide

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