Alabama; Mobile — Abortion rights and the question of how they would affect midterm elections dominated political discourse since the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade. Although different issues like inflation have sprouted during that timespan, abortion has remained a critical issue specifically for Democrats hoping to motivate voters angry with the high court’s decision.
Following Tuesday’s results, Democrats were correct in their hopes as reproductive rights were protected in all five states where abortion was on the ballot.
Voters in California, Michigan and Vermont voted to adopt ballot proposals that will enshrine the right to abortion and bodily autonomy. The other two states, Republican strongholds Kentucky and Montana, presented anti-abortion measures that were both rejected by voters indicating limits to anti-abortion proposals even in red states.
Although Kentucky already has an abortion ban, the defeat of the amendment will make it easier for abortion activists to continue to fight the ban in court. Montana’s “Born Alive” referendum would have designated fetuses born alive after pregnancy complications as legal persons and healthcare providers would be required to offer medical care or face criminal punishment.
In Illinois’ gubernatorial race, incumbent JB Pritzker defeated his Republican challenger Darren Bailey preventing a pro-life candidate from taking control of the governorship. However, many other pro-life governors remained in office after winning re-election including Ron Desantis, Greg Abbott, and Brian Kemp.
According to exit polls the primary issues that drove voters to the polls were inflation and abortion rights. Republican attempts to gin up their base by fearmongering about crime were not enough to overcome the outrage of abortion rights being stripped. A predicted red wave did not occur and Republicans’ decision to overturn the right to abortions and criminalize reproductive rights may have been a historically bad decision.
While the midterms were a victory for abortion rights, activists contend that the work is far from done. Advocates will continue to organize, challenge abortion bans in courts, and fight for reproductive rights in states all across the country.