Abortion rights activists celebrate wins in midterm elections

Abortion rights activists celebrate wins in midterm elections

The abortion rights movement in the United States is finding much to celebrate in the midterm elections, though activists concede that victory is relative in this political landscape.

Describing the abortion access clock as “ticking close to midnight” with the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court last month, it has now ticked away, Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s executive vice president, Dawn Laguens, told Yahoo News after Tuesday night’s results: “Voters unequivocally shifted the hands of time.”

There were a few clear advances by anti-abortion forces on Election Day, specifically constitutional amendments passed by voters in Alabama and West Virginia. The Alabama version declared that fetuses have legal rights and that the state constitution does not include a right to abortion, while the West Virginia amendment says that “nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or the funding of abortion.” Both would effectively ban abortion in those states should the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade. The votes were somewhat close, but clear — 58 percent voted in favor in Alabama and 52 percent did so in West Virginia.

In addition, anti-abortion senators flipped seats in Missouri, Indiana and North Dakota, and possibly added even more such senators in Arizona, Florida and Mississippi, where ballots are still being counted. This will likely mean that any anti-abortion President Trump judicial nominee will face no significant opposition in the Senate, though with the confirmation of Kavanaugh, abortion rights groups have already assumed that the court is unlikely to protect Roe v. Wade — making further anti-abortion justices less of a threat.

While notable, these were the only major victories by those who would limit abortion access. For those who would protect and expand it, Tuesday was a more wide-ranging night, particularly if the ground game is now focused on the states.

The flipping of the House of Representatives from Republicans to Democrats seems likely to mean that Congress will not be able to end federal funding of Planned Parenthood.

And at least one significant statewide initiative was defeated — an Oregon ballot measure that would have banned the use of public funds for most abortions was rejected by 64 percent. READ MORE