Abortion debate dominates Tuesday’s elections

November 6, 2023

Off-year elections this Tuesday have been dominated by debates over abortion rights in numerous states across the country. 

Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade and the Constitutional right to abortion in June 2022, the issue has been at the forefront of U.S. debate, and was viewed as a factor driving many to the polls in the 2022 midterm elections.

Last year voters in Michigan, Vermont and California cast their ballots to add abortion protections to their state Constitutions, and voters in Kansas, Kentucky and Montana rejected efforts to roll access back.

This year in Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear (D) is seeking a second term in a heavily Republican state that voted for former President Trump twice. He has called his state’s abortion law, which bans the procedure after 15 weeks, “extremist” because it does not make exceptions for cases of rape or incest. 

Beshear’s Republican opponent, Daniel Cameron, has said he would support a bill making exceptions for rape or incest, but he has also at times taken a more hardline stance, stating he would back such a bill “if the courts made us change that law.”

In Ohio, voters will decide on whether to enact a proposed state Constitutional amendment that would protect access to abortion. 

Essentially, the amendment would establish the right for Ohioans to “make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions” on matters including abortion, contraception and fertility treatment, though it clarifies that abortions would be banned at the point where a fetus can survive outside the womb—unless a doctor determines that the pregnancy would endanger the patient’s “life or health.”

In August, early voting surged in the days before a special election on a GOP measure that would have made it harder to pass future constitutional amendments, like the one that’s on this Tuesday’s ballot, by changing the threshold from a simple majority to 60%. Voters in Ohio rejected Issue 1 in August by a more-than 13% margin.

In Virginia, where Republicans hold a narrow majority in the state House, if the Democratic-led state Senate flips to a Republican majority, it could potentially clear the way for Gov. Glenn Youngkin to implement a 15-week abortion ban with exceptions for rape, incest and endangerment to the life of the mother. 

The currently Democratic-majority state Senate in Virginia rejected a bill banning abortion at 15 weeks back in January.

In several states where abortion is not specifically on the ballot, elections could impact the issue down the road:

In Mississippi, Gov. Tate Reeves (R) is running for a second term. Though the state is deep red, he is being challenged by Brandon Presley (D), a cousin of Elvis, who has exceeded Reeves’ in fundraising and matched him in spending. 

In Pennsylvania, Carolyn Carluccio (R) and Daniel McCaffrey (D) are competing for a vacant state Supreme Court seat.

In Rhode Island, Gabe Amo (D) and Gerry Leonard (R) are competing to fill the seat of David Cicilline (D), who resigned in May after seven terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.

As for the upcoming Presidential election year, abortion advocates are already working to get initiatives on the 2024 ballot in several states, including Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Florida, South Dakota and Nebraska.

Read more exclusive news from Political IQ.

 

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