Early this morning, abortion rights supporters had plenty to celebrate. The results of this November’s elections could have lasting implications for conversations and policy around access to reproductive healthcare. The outcomes also suggest a transformed political landscape in the wake of SCOTUS overturning Roe v. Wade, even in states that have been traditionally conservative.
Virginia’s Legislature Turned Blue
Governor Glenn Youngkin will not lead a GOP-controlled legislature in the Commonwealth, which is likely to end his plan for a 15-week abortion ban. Virginia Democrats retain control in the state Senate and have also flipped the House of Delegates. For the rest of his term, Gov. Youngkin will have to face unified Democratic control in the legislature, which could make passing bills for lax environmental protection and gun control laws difficult to pass for Republicans.
This race was difficult to predict even for veteran analysts because of redrawn political maps and a large number of retirements in the legislature. However, the voting power of abortion in the halls of government proved to be a motivator for voters, which is still more evidence of it being a key motivator for measures and political candidates beyond this election.
Ohio Ballot Measure Passes
In Ohio, voters approved a constitutional amendment that would ensure access to abortion and other reproductive healthcare. Ohio’s constitutional amendment (which was on the ballot as Issue 1) includes some of the most protective language for abortion access of any statewide ballot since the Roe v. Wade. Voter turnout for Issue 1 ensured that a 2019 state law banning abortions after fetal cardiac activity is detected and with no exceptions for rape or incest would be undone.
Issue 1 allows Ohio to regulate the procedure after fetal viability – when the fetus has a “significant likelihood of survival” outside the womb – in cases where doctors determine the life or health of the women in question is at risk.
Democrats who did not run on abortion lost
In Mississippi, the incumbent Republican Governor Tate Reeves beat his competitor, Democrat Brandon Presley, by about 17 percentage points. Mr. Presley did not press on the issue of abortion, instead choosing to tie Gov. Reeves to his public corruption scandal (the misspending of $94 million in federal funds for the poor in Mississippi on college volleyball facilities) and to press his own campaign forward to expand Medicaid to save collapsing rural hospitals.