Albany Agenda

Jeffries emphasizes freedom angle on abortion during ABNY breakfast

The House minority leader urged Democrats to appeal to moderate voters on the issue of reproductive rights.

ABNY Board Chair Steven Rubenstein left, and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, right

ABNY Board Chair Steven Rubenstein left, and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, right Annie McDonough

Democrats are counting on abortion rights to be a motivating issue at the polls this November. But to ensure that it galvanizes voters, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries is calling on fellow Democrats to deploy a rather simple messaging strategy, one that relies on a value quintessential to America’s self-image. “I would think the most significant thing that we can continue to do – those of us who stand, I believe, on the right side of this issue – is that when we’re communicating it, always use the freedom frame,” Jeffries said. 

Speaking at a breakfast hosted by the Association for a Better New York on Friday, the House minority leader said that reproductive freedom will be on the presidential ballot, as well as House and Senate races across the country and in New York, including the special election in New York’s 3rd Congressional District. That gives us the best opportunity, not just to reach people on the progressive side, but certainly moderate, centrist, swing voters who will be important in determining this election, and therefore the fate of reproductive freedom,” Jeffries said.

Although Democrats in New York did not benefit from an “abortion bump” last cycle as state Democratic Party Chair Jay Jacobs put it in 2022, party leaders are hoping that this year will be different. They launched a $20 million campaign last year to educate voters about a ballot proposal to enshrine abortion protections – and other civil rights measures – into the state constitution. The leader of the campaign said that with the start of the new year, organizers are focused on continuing to raise funds and begin educating key partners ahead of November. 

The Democrat-aligned House Majority PAC also chose to focus on abortion rights in its first ad in the 3rd Congressional District. The group criticized Republican candidate Mazi Pilip for her association with members of her party that supports a national abortion ban, although Pilip has said she would not back such a measure.

The breakfast is part of a series regularly hosted by the nonprofit ABNY, bringing elected officials and other influential New Yorkers in front of an audience of real estate and other business industry leaders. The breakfast at the Midtown Hilton on Friday was packed, with Rep. Greg Meeks, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and plenty of lobbyists in attendance who welcomed Jeffries with a standing ovation.