48 times. American voters approved abortion in referendums 48 times between 1970 and August 2022. The vast majority of these, 41 times, were anti-abortionists who initiated referendums, and voters rejected 30 of those proposals.
But on Tuesday, two unique things happened. At the time, five states in the United States held referendums on abortion-related issues at the same time — more than ever before in the same year. Additionally, three of the five referendums were initiated by abortion-rights advocates.
They have won a lot. In Vermont, California, and Michigan, the right to abortion will now be written into the constitutions of the respective states. Montana voters also voted “no” to expand who is considered a living person, which would have forced doctors to provide medical treatment to fetuses born despite an abortion.
But the Kentucky election is where many held their breath before. The proposal was for an amendment to the Constitution stating that it did not protect the right to abortion. Fifty-two percent of Kentuckians voted against the proposal — which was voted on in two states — after Kansas earlier this year put the same issue to a referendum.
In other words, the 2022 midterm elections turned out to be a really bad night for abortion opponents in the United States. The fact is, the abortion issue may also explain why Democrats are doing significantly better across the United States than many experts initially thought.
27% of voters stated that abortion was the most important electoral issue in the midterm elections. This puts it second only to inflation (31%). Many politicians saw this coming. Gretchen Whitmer, the current governor of Michigan, has focused a lot on trying to stop the Michigan Employment Act of 1931 which also prohibits all abortions. She took the case to court, and also campaigned for people to vote yes in the abortion right. Don’t be surprised if post-election analysis shows that Whitmer’s victory as governor can be attributed more to the abortion issue than anything else.
It was a new era that began in the United States this summer when the Supreme Court tore up constitutional protections for abortion in the United States. Thirteen states with so-called arousal laws almost immediately passed various types of blanket abortion restrictions. But the midterms have become a kind of revenge for those who want to see the potential for legal abortion across the United States.
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