President Joe Biden on Wednesday celebrated another round of election results showing that American voters, including those in red states, broadly support reproductive rights and want abortion to remain legal.
Biden touted the results in Ohio, where voters approved a state constitutional amendment that ensures access to abortion and other forms of reproductive health care, the seventh state where voters have done so since the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022.
“Ohioans and voters across the country rejected attempts by MAGA Republican elected officials to impose extreme abortion bans that put the health and lives of women in jeopardy, force women to travel hundreds of miles for care, and threaten to criminalize doctors and nurses for providing the health care that their patients need and that they are trained to provide,” Biden said in a statement.
While Ohio got the bulk of the attention and was home to the only abortion-related ballot measure, Democrats also won key races in other states by running on abortion rights.
In Kentucky, staunchly pro-choice Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear won reelection to a second term Tuesday, defeating anti-abortion Republican Daniel Cameron, who supported a statewide abortion ban.
In Virginia, Democrats beat back Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s attempt to turn the state fully Republican by defending their majority in the state Senate and flipping control of the House of Delegates. Virginia Democrats largely ran on preserving abortion access in the commonwealth, while Youngkin pledged to pass a 15-week abortion ban if Republicans won control of both chambers of the legislature.
And in Pennsylvania, a pro-choice Democratic judge won a vacant seat on the state Supreme Court, defeating an anti-abortion Republican judge.
These victories are just the latest in a long string of state-level wins for the reproductive rights movement since Roe was overturned. Voters in states such as California, Vermont, and Michigan have approved ballot measures to protect abortion rights, while voters in red states like Kansas and Montana rejected ballot measures that would have effectively banned abortion.
Pro-choice governors in states like Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin also won their races last year, defeating anti-abortion Republicans.
In Arizona, abortion is banned after 15 weeks of pregnancy, and enforcement of a separate ban from 1864 has been temporarily blocked by an appeals court. State law requires patients undergo an initial visit consisting of pregnancy confirmation with ultrasound and physician counseling, then wait 24 hours before having an abortion procedure.
After winning her election last year by campaigning on abortion rights, Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs has sought to strip local prosecutors of the power to criminally charge abortion providers. She passed an executive order earlier this year that would take authority away from elected county attorneys, a majority Republican group, and transfer it to Arizona’s attorney general, a Democrat who has vowed not to prosecute abortion providers. Reproductive rights advocates have also launched an effort to enshrine abortion rights under the state constitution via a ballot measure next year
Tuesday’s wins indicate that reproductive rights remain a potent issue for voters heading into the 2024 presidential election, something that President Joe Biden lauded in his statement issued Tuesday.
“Americans once again voted to protect their fundamental freedoms – and democracy won,” the president said. “This extreme and dangerous agenda is out-of-step with the vast majority of Americans.”
Biden also reiterated his support for abortion rights and called on Congress “to restore the protections of Roe v. Wade in federal law once and for all.”
The Biden administration has taken several steps in the past year to protect access to reproductive health care, including abortion.
Shortly after the Supreme Court struck down Roe, Biden signed an executive order protecting access to reproductive health care services. The order helps women travel out of state to receive abortion care, ensures health care providers comply with federal law so that women aren’t delayed in getting that care, and advanced research and data collection “to evaluate the impact that this reproductive health crisis is having on maternal health and other health conditions and outcomes.”
Earlier this year, Biden also issued new rules allowing retail pharmacies to dispense mifepristone. Mifepristone, along with another drug, misoprostol, is approved through 10 weeks of pregnancy, and is used in more than half of abortions nationwide. Last month, Politico reported that more than a dozen retail pharmacies across the country started dispensing the drug.
The Pentagon has also instituted a new policy that reimburses service members for travel expenses and offers up to 21 days of leave for abortions and fertility treatment.
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