Last year, Justice Samuel Alito urged voters to determine the fate of abortion through his written opinion, which overturned Roe v. Wade in the U.S. Supreme Court.
He acknowledged that we cannot predict how our political system or society will react, as he disregarded 50 years of established norms.
After 17 months, the court has reached a conclusion: American citizens are in favor of maintaining or reinstating protections similar to those in Roe v. Wade. In numerous elections, including a recent win in Ohio, voters have clearly chosen to support abortion rights over restrictions, even in heavily conservative areas.
When the issue of abortion is put to a vote, it is typically successful. This is true in conservative states that supported President Trump, as well as in counties where President Biden lost by a large margin. It also prevails with the support or disregard of popular Republican leaders, and regardless of whether the decision has an immediate impact on access to abortion.
Abortion has widespread support regardless of political affiliation, and it has consistently performed better in elections compared to Biden and other Democratic candidates. According to an analysis by POLITICO, abortion has a stronger presence in Republican areas, as evidenced by election results in five states that have directly voted on abortion rights: California, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio. In all five states, every county that voted for Biden also voted in favor of abortion rights.
In areas where Biden received less than 20% of the vote in the 2020 election, the pro-choice movement has typically garnered 31% in referendums, showing an 11-point difference.
The analysis discovered a consistent trend of bipartisan support for abortion, indicating that only a few states, like Wyoming or Alabama, may have a consistently conservative enough stance to vote against abortion if given the chance.
The information shows the life events of Americans: Approximately 25% of women will undergo an abortion, and about 60% of those abortions are performed on women who are already mothers.
Don Levy, director of the Siena College Research Institute, stated that in Texas, abortions being either “always” or “mostly” legal were victorious. This outcome was also seen in all the states where the question was polled. Levy believes this reflects the current stance of America on the issue.
Attempts to prohibit or limit the opportunity to directly vote on ballot measures regarding abortion rights following significant defeats on Tuesday.
American United for Life was the most explicit, calling Wednesday for the remaining red states that have a citizen-led ballot initiative process — Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota — to get rid of them and only allow ballot initiatives approved by their state legislatures.
The group stated that the outcomes in Ohio serve as a warning against majoritarianism, which enables the powerful to oppress the vulnerable.
Although Democratic candidates who campaigned on safeguarding abortion privileges utilized the anger of voters throughout the nation, the influence of the matter was most apparent in Ohio.
The Buckeye State’s Republican leaders utilized all their resources to defeat the proposed measure, but it still received approximately 57 percent approval. This is almost the same margin of victory as Michigan’s vote last year, despite the amendment having support from the Democratic governor and attorney general.
Veronica Ingham, the campaign manager of Ohioans For Reproductive Freedom, stated to journalists on Wednesday morning that Ohioans have made a statement to the rest of the country: American citizens are in favor of abortion rights and will show up to vote in order to safeguard these rights. She also emphasized that the outcome of the recent election has demonstrated that this is not a matter of political party affiliation.
Abortion-rights groups in Ohio won over Republicans, independents and Democrats by sticking with the playbook that carried them to victory in six state contests in 2022, including decrying government interference in personal health care decisions. Anti-abortion groups also recycled many of their talking points from other state fights about abortions later in pregnancy, gender-affirming care and parental consent for minors terminating a pregnancy. And their attempts to go after pieces of Democrats’ coalition — including Black voters and students — were not successful.
Exit polls indicated widespread backing for the referendum among all age demographics except for older individuals, as well as among all racial groups. Additionally, suburban voters, those who identify as moderate, and parents showed high levels of approval, signaling that Democrats who campaign on this matter will likely see success in the 2024 elections.
The overwhelming loss suffered by the anti-abortion movement raises doubts about their argument that Republicans can secure victory by taking a more aggressive stance on abortion after 2022. They have previously attributed their defeats to GOP candidates shying away from the issue and conceding ground to Democrats.
John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council, acknowledged that there is a significant amount of work to be done. He believes that it is necessary to return to the drawing board and focus on the fundamentals. Stemberger emphasized the importance of both respecting the voters’ opinions and providing guidance and understanding.
On Wednesday, anti-abortion organizations pointed to their donors as the reason for their significant financial disadvantage in multiple states. They argued that this allowed Democrats to control the conversation around abortion. For instance, in Ohio, pro-abortion rights groups received three times the amount of donations compared to their anti-abortion counterparts.
“The group of GOP consultants must become aware,” stated Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of SBA Pro-Life America, which played a leading role in the Ohio campaign. “Candidates must allocate funds and focus on responding to the Democratic party’s criticisms, or they will consistently suffer defeat.”
Youngkin’s political action committee (PAC) began a $1.4 million advertising campaign in October promoting the proposed limitations as “reasonable” and “commonsense.” They used the term “limit” instead of “ban.” This strategy was seen as a way for anti-abortion groups to counter their recent election defeats in 2022 by focusing more on the issue of abortion rather than avoiding it.
However, according to Olivia Gans Turner, the leader of the Virginia Society for Human Life, a group opposed to abortion, Youngkin’s emphasis on the time frame for restricting the procedure was excessive.
She stated that discussing 15 weeks was inaccurate as it shifted the focus away from the unborn child’s ability to feel pain.
In a recent opinion piece, it was acknowledged that the presence of both pro-choice and pro-life lawmakers within the New Jersey Republican party makes it unfeasible to prohibit abortion.
However, the Republican party faced losses in the state’s legislative elections. The Democratic party, utilizing abortion as a divisive issue in closely contested districts, not only maintained their hold on both chambers of the legislature but also increased their majority.
Democrats are working to ensure abortion remains top of mind in both federal and state races going into 2024 — well aware that support for access doesn’t always translate into wins for candidates. For example, while abortion played a key role in helping Gov. Beshear notch a reelection victory in Kentucky, the state’s Democratic candidate for attorney general, state Rep. Pamela Stevenson, lost despite campaigning on the issue. Democratic challenger Greta Kemp Martin also failed Tuesday to unseat Mississippi’s GOP Attorney General Lynn Fitch, who led the case that overturned Roe v. Wade.
However, Democrats maintain that voters will recall which candidates advocated for abortion rights and which opposed them when they make their decision in 2024 on which party should have control of Congress and state legislatures across the nation.
According to Jessica Post, the departing president of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, Dobbs has brought clarity to the importance of state legislatures in shaping policies that greatly impact our lives. She believes that the clear consequences at hand, along with the Republican party’s persistent disregard for voter opinions on abortion, will ultimately lead to their downfall.
This report was contributed by Jennifer Haberkorn.