Voters have something to say about abortion rights

Voters made it clear at the ballot: Americans want access to abortion care. Preliminary results from the midterm elections show voters overwhelmingly supported measures protecting abortion rights and rejected measures that would further restrict or ban abortion.

Legal abortions fell some 6 percent in the two months after the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision erased the constitutional right to abortion. In 13 states, most abortions are banned with narrow exceptions. And the threat of a national ban on abortion is real, especially if Democrats do not, at minimum, hold their current ground in the midterms. Some of those races remain undecided as of Wednesday.

Abortion bans are severely unpopular—a scant 8 percent of Americans say that abortion should be banned in all cases, according to the most recent data from the Public Religion Research Institute. Results from Tuesday’s elections seem to mirror this data.

California, Proposition 1 — PASSED

Proposition 1 will enshrine the right to abortion and the right to use contraceptives (or not) in the state’s constitution, clarifying that the state cannot interfere in a person’s reproductive freedom. The measure passed with overwhelming support, as it was expected, according to preliminary results

View results here.

Michigan, “Reproductive Freedom For All” — PASSED

The measure “Reproductive Freedom For All” appeared on the ballot as Proposition 3. The measure passed, creating the broad right to “reproductive freedom” the law in Michigan. The law also strikes 1931 abortion ban and potentially other abortion regulations.

“Today, the people of Michigan voted to restore the reproductive rights they’ve had for 50 years,” Reproductive Freedom campaign spokesperson Darci McConnell told Bridge Michigan.

“Proposal 3′s passage marks an historic victory for abortion access in our state and in our country – and Michigan has paved the way for future efforts to restore the rights and protections of Roe v. Wade nationwide.”

View results here.

Kentucky, Constitutional Amendment 2 — FAILED

Constitutional Amendment 2 would have amended the state constitution to say residents do not have a right to abortion, but the measure failed.

The failed amendment will have no practical impact on the right to an abortion if a sweeping ban on the procedure approved by lawmakers survives a legal challenge presently before the state Supreme Court.

“The people of Kentucky have spoken and their answer is no –- no to extremist politicians banning abortion and making private medical decisions on their behalf,” said Amber Duke, interim executive director for the ACLU of Kentucky.

View results here.

Montana, “Born Alive Infant Protection Act” — FAILED

Voters in Montana voted against the “Born Alive Infant Protection Act” that would have declared embryos and fetuses as legal persons with a right to medical care if born alive after a failed abortion or born prematurely. If passed, doctors who were found to intentionally not provide life-saving care to a fetus born alive could be punished by up to 20 years in prison or a $50,000 fine, or both, the referendum states.

Since the measure failed, Montana (at least for now) will not become one of the 18 states with “born alive” laws. All of them were enacted by state legislatures. Montana’s would have been the first to be passed by legislative referendum, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The “born alive” talking point is based largely on a mythical idea that abortion is horrific and grotesque. It is extraordinarily rare for a fetus to survive an abortion procedure. (A member of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology remarked that it is so exceedingly uncommon that such cases occur “essentially zero percent of the time.”)

View results here.

Vermont, Proposal 1 — PASSED

Voters overwhelmingly approved Vermont’s measure designed to keep the state out of residents’ reproductive choices. Proposal 1 reads “[A]n individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the liberty and dignity to determine one’s own life course and shall not be denied or infringed unless justified by a compelling state interest achieved by the least restrictive means.”

Tl;dr: the state has to stay out of its citizens’ reproductive lives, unless it has a really good reason to interfere, and even then, it would be an uphill legal battle for Vermont. The right to abortion is protected by state law—this would only shore it up a bit further.

View results here.

Anna Beahm

Anna Beahm |

I report on the intersection of religion and sexuality in America. Follow me on Twitter @_AnnaBeahm

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