Sonya Koenig is terrified. Koenig, a 19-year-old student from Kalamazoo, Michigan, frequently stays up until 2 a.m. pondering. Sometimes she walks down the hall or talks to her roommate about worst-case scenarios in which she becomes pregnant and needs an abortion.

“As a student at Michigan State University, I hear tales all the time of women getting drugged at parties or just strolling down the street, and something horrible can happen,” adds Koenig. “A man may walk away, but [abortion prohibitions] force women to choose: ‘Do I want to give up this kid… or raise this child with no aid from anyone?'” That is a difficult decision.”

Koenig registered to vote in August, a week after her 19th birthday. She is one of several women who have registered in large numbers since the Supreme Court removed the constitutional right to abortion on June 24.

“My intellect is always on fire.” I can’t unwind. “I just want this election to be finished,” adds Koenig, who wants to vote in Michigan to defend abortion rights as well as vote Democrat in November.

People like Koenig have the potential to be a highly important voting group as the midterm elections approach, with organisers focusing on women and young people in voter registration efforts around the country. The earliest indications of that bloc’s voting power came in early August, when Kansas women decisively voted to maintain abortion rights. Women made about 70% of newly registered voters in that election, resulting in a massive turnout. They were eventually successful in protecting abortion rights in a state where Donald Trump had a 15% lead in the 2020 presidential election, which he lost to Joe Biden.

That trend appears to be continuing in other states, posing a challenge to Republican politicians, who have surreptitiously withdrawn abortion-related election commitments from their websites and modified their anti-abortion message in recent weeks.

For example, Scott Jensen, the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Minnesota, has stated that he would outright outlaw abortion. However, Jensen recently published a video in which he stated that he favours abortion in circumstances of rape, incest, and threat to the pregnant person’s life.

That pivot may not be enough to conceal the party’s tough agenda: last week, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham suggested a federal ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, despite months of Republican talk about returning the issue to the states.

Perhaps women are sceptical. Target Smart examined new voter registration from 45 states in the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision that revoked federal abortion rights; the company found that female registration increased by 12%.

Advertisement

Women are out-registering males by 16% in Wisconsin, a battleground state that went for Biden by a margin of only 30,000 votes in 2020. New registrants are likewise heavily skewed Democratic: 52% of newly registered voters in Wisconsin are Democrats, while Republicans account for only 17% of new registrations.

“In my 28 years of monitoring elections, I’ve never seen anything like what’s transpired in American politics in the last two months,” Tom Bonier, CEO of Target Smart, said in the New York Times. “Women are registering to vote in unprecedented numbers.” I’m at a loss for words to convey how different this moment is.”

After 730,000 Michiganders signed a petition asking a vote, the Michigan Supreme Court decided last week to bring the issue of abortion rights directly to voters in November. Republicans on the state canvassers’ board attempted to prevent the referendum call at first, citing spacing issues.