Guttmacher Institute, on 9 November 2022.
More resounding victories for abortion on state ballot measures in the US
Voters on abortion-related measures in five US states — California, Michigan, Vermont, Kentucky and Montana — came down decisively in favour of abortion rights and access:
The right to abortion and contraception is now enshrined in the state constitution. California has further cemented its status as a leader in protective abortion policies.
Essential protections for abortion and pregnancy care, including birth control, prenatal care and childbirth — are now enshrined in the state’s constitution. This will help to permanently block a 1931 abortion ban from going into effect (it was currently blocked temporarily).
Personal reproductive autonomy — which includes decision-making on pregnancy, abortion, contraception and sterilization — is enshrined in the state’s constitution. Vermont is the first state to explicitly protect personal reproductive autonomy in its constitution.
Voters rejected a state constitutional amendment that said the state constitution provides no protection for abortion rights. While abortion is still banned in the state except in very narrow circumstances, defeating this amendment was a significant win and could set the stage for future progress on law reform.
Montana voters rejected a measure that would have required providers to sustain infants born at any stage, even those that were non-viable, or face severe penalties. While anti-abortion policymakers claimed the measure was aimed at restricting abortion access, providers said its passage would have most severely impacted those with pregnancy complications and fetal anomalies.
These are critically important wins. The bad news is abortion is unavailable in 14 states right now, including 12 states with abortion bans that allow virtually no exceptions, and two states where there are no clinics providing services.
SOURCE: Guttmacher Institute, by Elisabeth Nash, Isabel Guarnieri, 9 November 2022
One post-election analysis of the role of abortion in the election
“There was never much hard evidence that a red wave [Republican victory] was coming. Since the imperious Supreme Court scrapped [Roe v. Wade], Democrats have overperformed in special elections, and the pro-choice side won an overwhelming victory in a Kansas referendum on abortion. Polls showed an extremely close race in several competitive states and districts, and some of them had Democrats ahead…What I should have done was listen to those monitoring the furious political energy unleashed by… the Supreme Court decision stripping women of their right to bodily autonomy….”
“As I write this, control of Congress is still up in the air…. It will take a while to sort out exactly why Republicans did so much worse than expected. Maybe people care more about the integrity of our democracy than the pundits give them credit for. Maybe they were turned off by Republicans cackling over the assault on Nancy Pelosi’s husband. But there seems little question that abortion was a big part of the story…. When it comes to reproductive choice, Republicans are simply out of touch with the values of a significant part of the electorate….Republican extremism is the most important political story in the country…. “People just want the circus to stop”. [Quote from Adam Frisch, a Democratic candidate for the House of Representatives in Colorado, whose father was an ob-gyn who did abortions.]
SOURCE: New York Times Opinion, by Michelle Goldberg, 9 November 2022. [Shared by a NY Times subscriber]. SEE ALSO: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/10/us/abortion-ballot-midterm-elections.html
STOP PRESS: The US Senate now has 50 Democrats and 49 Republicans, and a run-off was called in Georgia.