Midterm voters come out in support of abortion rights

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Majorities in Vermont, Michigan, California, Kentucky and Montana voted on Tuesday to protect reproductive freedom.

Voters across the nation turned out to protect abortion rights in their states on Tuesday in the aftermath of the Supreme Court's decision in June to overturn Roe v. Wade and leave the regulation of abortion rights to the states.

Following the rejection in August by voters in Kansas of a ballot measure on an anti-abortion amendment to the state's Constitution, five states — Vermont, Michigan, California, Kentucky, and Montana — had abortion-related questions on the ballot on Nov. 8.

Voters in three of the states approved measures that will to varying extents protect abortion access; voters in the other two rejected measures that would have imposed restrictions or bans.

"This election proves what we know to be true: A strong majority of voters support legal abortion, and do not want politicians involved in their medical decisions," Planned Parenthood Action Fund said in a statement on Wednesday. Political and advocacy groups associated with Planned Parenthood invested $50 million in the 2022 midterms, their largest-ever electoral program.

Polling by Gallup ahead of the 2022 midterms showed that 42% of voters considered the topic of abortion an "extremely important" election issue, second only to the economy.

Nancy Northrup, the president and CEO at the Center for Reproductive Rights, called the results of voting on the issue "a seismic win for abortion rights."

Vermont becomes the first state to codify abortion rights

In Vermont, voters backed Proposal 5 to add an amendment protecting reproductive rights to the state Constitution by a margin of 72%-22%, making it the first state to affirm the right to abortion in its constitution.

"This is an historic victory for everyone who values reproductive liberty, bodily autonomy, and the right to access abortion care," said the executive director of ACLU Vermont, James Lyall, in a statement. "Vermonters have sent a powerful message that they value this fundamental right and will not tolerate it being taken away."

Michigan votes yes on Proposal 3

As of Nov. 9, 56% of Michigan voters had approved Proposal 3, called the Right to Reproductive Freedom Initiative, to amend the state's Constitution to protect reproductive rights.

"Michigan has made history as the first state in the nation to pass an affirmative citizen-initiated constitutional amendment to guarantee the right to an abortion," Nicole Wells Stallworth, the executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, said in a statement. "But we will not be the last. This victory will provide a blueprint to other states looking to use the power of direct democracy to restore reproductive rights previously protected under Roe."

The amendment will take effect on Dec. 24, and the website Bridge Michigan reported that lawmakers were likely to repeal or amend existing state laws to bring them into accordance with the Constitution.

California votes in favor of Proposal 1

In California, 65% of voters backed a proposed constitutional amendment to codify reproductive rights.

Proposal 1 amends the "California Constitution to expressly include an individual’s fundamental right to reproductive freedom, which includes the fundamental right to choose to have an abortion and the fundamental right to choose or refuse contraceptives."

"Here in California, voters used their voice to say loud and clear they support access to abortion and contraception - safeguarding peoples' rights for generations to come," Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California President Jodi Hicks said in a statement.

Kentucky rejects anti-abortion amendment

Fifty-two percent of Kentucky voters rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have added language reading, "To protect human life, nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion."

Rachel Sweet, a manager for the Protect Kentucky Access campaign against Amendment 2, said in a provided statement, "Not only does it represent a win against government overreach and government interference in the people of Kentucky's personal medical decisions, it represents the first time so many different organizations have come together with such an intense single-minded purpose to defeat a threat of this magnitude."

Kentucky's total ban on abortion, which took effect in July, is being challenged, and a hearing in the case before the Kentucky Supreme Court is scheduled for Nov. 15. Abortion remains illegal with very few exceptions pending the outcome of the case.

Montana rejects 'born alive' ballot initiative

Fifty-two percent of voters in Montana rejected an anti-abortion proposal calling for the adoption of the state's "Born-alive Infant Protection Act," classifying an embryo or fetus as a "human infant, at any stage of development" and "providing that infants born alive, including infants born alive after an abortion, are legal persons; requiring health care providers to take necessary actions to preserve the life of a born-alive infant; providing a penalty; providing that the proposed act be submitted to the qualified electors of Montana; and providing an effective date."

Abortion is legal in Montana until viability in most cases.

"We did it and it was all due to the families who shared their deeply personal stories, the healthcare providers who worked tirelessly to educate voters, and all our volunteers who helped us spread awareness," the No on LR-131 campaign posted on Twitter after results were declared. "LR131, a cruel and unnecessary proposed government mandate, is defeated."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.