Poll re­sults promis­ing for abor­tion-rights back­ers

The Columbus Dispatch - - Front Page - By Sa­man­tha Sch­midt and Michelle Boorstein

With the fate of Roe v. Wade hang­ing in the bal­ance, Tues­day’s midterm elec­tions brought high stakes for both sides of the abor­tion de­bate.

Anti-abor­tion advocates gained clear leg­isla­tive vic­to­ries in Alabama and West Vir­ginia, where vot­ers passed con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments paving the way to ban abor­tion if the new con­ser­va­tive con­sen­sus on the Supreme Court over­turns the land­mark 1973 rul­ing that out­lawed re­stric­tions on the pro­ce­dure be­fore the fe­tus is vi­able.

In West Vir­ginia, vot­ers passed a mea­sure by 52 per­cent of the vote that amends the state’s con­sti­tu­tion to say that “noth­ing in this Con­sti­tu­tion se­cures or pro­tects a right to abor­tion or the fund­ing of abor­tion.” It also bans state Med­ic­aid in­sur­ance from cov­er­ing abor­tion.

In Alabama, a bal­lot mea­sure passed as­sign­ing le­gal rights to fe­tuses and ex­clud­ing the right to abor­tion from the state con­sti­tu­tion. Fifty-eight per­cent of vot­ers in Alabama voted for the bal­lot mea­sure.

On the other side of the is­sue, an Ore­gon bal­lot mea­sure pro­hibit­ing the use of pub­lic money to fund most abor­tions was re­jected by 64 per­cent of vot­ers.

For abor­tion-rights ac­tivists, such as Planned Par­ent­hood, the anti-abor­tion bal­lot mea­sures were ano­ma­lies in an oth­er­wise promis­ing night that brought Demo­cratic wins in gu­ber­na­to­rial and state leg­is­la­ture races across the coun­try.

“Far more elected of­fi­cials to­day than yes­ter­day are go­ing to be work­ing to pro­tect ac­cess to abor­tion and re­pro­duc­tive health in this coun­try,” said Dawn Laguens, the ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent and chief ex­pe­ri­ence of­fi­cer for Planned Par­ent­hood Ac­tion Fund.

Planned Par­ent­hood counted at least seven state leg­isla­tive cham­bers that flipped to Demo­cratic, proabor­tion-rights ma­jori­ties

— in Colorado, Con­necti­cut, Min­nesota, Maine, New York and two in New Hamp­shire. And sev­eral key toss-up states elected Demo­cratic gover­nors over Repub­li­can can­di­dates who had threat­ened to re­strict ac­cess to abor­tion.

These state-level races fac­tor into the abor­tion de­bate be­cause if the Supreme Court over­turns Roe v. Wade, state law­mak­ers and gover­nors could have the power to en­act ma­jor changes in ac­cess to abor­tion.

“For decades, states have been the bat­tle­ground on abor­tion rights,” said Emily Nash, a pol­icy an­a­lyst at the Guttmacher In­sti­tute, a re­pro­duc­tive-health pol­icy ad­vo­cacy group. “If the Supreme Court rolls back abor­tion rights, states will have even more lee­way to un­der­mine abor­tion rights.”

Abor­tion-rights ac­tivists noted wins for Demo­cratic gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­dates in Kansas, Wis­con­sin, Michi­gan and Min­nesota.

In Kansas, for ex­am­ple, for­mer gover­nor Sam Brown­back had signed into law sharp re­stric­tions on abor­tion, and Repub­li­can can­di­date Kris Kobach vowed to sup­port a con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment mak­ing clear that Kansas does not in­clude the right to an abor­tion. On Tues­day, Laura Kelly, a Demo­crat en­dorsed by Planned Par­ent­hood, was elected gover­nor.

In Wis­con­sin, where Gov. Scott Walker’s cuts to Planned Par­ent­hood fund­ing caused five health cen­ters to close, vot­ers elected Demo­crat Tony Evers as their new gover­nor.

Still, anti-abor­tion advocates noted strong wins in the Se­nate, where three Repub­li­can can­di­dates who de­scribe them­selves as op­po­nents of abor­tion flipped seats in Mis­souri, North Dakota and In­di­ana.

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