Abortion drives November election


Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

This morning, abortion rights advocates had plenty to celebrate. The results of the November election could have a lasting impact on the conversation and policy surrounding access to reproductive health care. The results also point to a changing political landscape following the overturn of Roe v. Wade through SCOTUS, even in states that have traditionally been conservative.

Virginia’s legislature turned blue

Gov. Glenn Youngkin will not lead the commonwealth’s GOP-controlled legislature, likely ending his plan for a 15-week abortion ban. Virginia Democrats retain control of the state Senate and have also flipped the House of Representatives. For the remainder of his term, Gov. Youngkin will face unified Democratic control of the Legislature, which could make it harder for Republicans to pass bills on lax environmental and gun control laws.

This race was difficult to predict, even for experienced analysts, as the political maps were redrawn and a large number of resignations occurred during the legislative session. However, abortion’s voting power in the halls of government proved to be a motivator for voters, further evidence that it is a key motivator for policies and political candidates beyond this election.

Ohio ballot measure passes

In Ohio, voters approved a constitutional amendment that would guarantee access to abortion and other reproductive health care. The Ohio constitutional amendment (which appeared on the ballot as Issue 1) contains some of the strongest protections for abortion access in any statewide vote since Roe v. Calf. The turnout for Issue 1 ensured that a 2019 state law that bans abortions after fetal cardiac activity is detected and provides no exceptions for rape or incest was reversed.

Issue 1 allows Ohio to regulate the procedure based on fetal viability — when the fetus has a “substantial likelihood” of survival outside the uterus — in cases where doctors determine the lives or health of the women in question are at risk.

Democrats who did not run for abortion lost

In Mississippi, incumbent Republican Gov. Tate Reeves beat his opponent, Democrat Brandon Presley, by about 17 percentage points. Mr. Presley did not press the issue of abortion, choosing instead to link Governor Reeves to his public corruption scandal (the misspending of $94 million in federal funds for college volleyball facilities for the poor in Mississippi) and his own campaign push to expand Medicaid to save failing rural hospitals.

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