Abortion propels Democrats to victory in Virginia, Kentucky and Pennsylvania

Abortion propels Democrats to victory in Virginia, Kentucky and Pennsylvania

Democrats rode to victory on the abortion issue last night. They not only held the Virginia State Senate, but took control of the Virginia House of Delegates by campaigning on the abortion issue. Voters in Virginia watched an avalanche of TV ads paid for by Democrats attacking Republicans for wanting to restrict abortion.

Even in Republican-run Ohio, voters approved a ballot initiative putting abortion rights protections in the state constitution, protecting abortion at least until fetal viability.

Last year, months after the Supreme Court overturned prior rulings saying abortion is protected by the Constitution, abortion rights supporters were victorious in six states where abortion-related questions were on the ballot. In 2022,  even voters in red states like Kansas and Kentucky rejected efforts to restrict abortion.

Ohio voters’ passage of Issue 1 means that a state law banning most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy will not be able to go into effect.

As NPR notes,

Abortion wasn’t directly on the ballot in Virginia as it was in Ohio. But the issue was the most talked about issue in the campaign (crime ranked second).

With the entire legislature up for reelection, Democrats managed to take control of the state House of Delegates while maintaining control of the state Senate — an important goal for abortion rights supporters in a state with a divided legislature and a Republican governor.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin has supported a proposal to ban most abortions after 15 weeks, with some exceptions, and heavily campaigned with Republicans to try to win control of the state legislature.

As it is, Virginia is the only state in the South that has not restricted abortion in response to the Supreme Court decision last year.

Youngkin’s proposed 15-week limit turned out to be not particularly popular. But what was really unpopular was the Republican candidates’ failure to explicitly promise they wouldn’t vote to restrict abortion before 15 weeks. Making such a promise would have helped them win in the general election, but it would have made them vulnerable to being challenged in the Republican primary by hardcore anti-abortion candidates — the Republican primary electorate is anti-abortion, while the general election electorate is not.

Virginia Democrats ran lots of ads showing Republican delegate candidate John Stirrup telling someone that he supported a “100% ban.” That position helped Stirrup get the GOP nomination, but ensured he would lose the general election by 3% to a Democrat. Stirrup’s swing district voted both for Republican Governor Youngkin and Democratic President Joe Biden. Stirrup thought he was talking to a pro-life activist, but it actually was a pro-abortion activist who was secretly recording him.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, won reelection after facing a challenge from the state’s Republican attorney general, Daniel Cameron, who opposes abortion rights and has defended Kentucky’s strict abortion laws in court.

Beshear’s campaign released an emotional ad in which a young woman talked about her experience as a victim of rape by a family member at age 12. She lamented that Kentucky’s abortion law contains no rape or incest exceptions, saying, “Anyone who believes there should be no exceptions for rape and incest could never understand what it’s like to stand in my shoes.”

Cameron eventually moderated his position to support rape and incest exceptions, but still lost the election.

Last year, in another likely sign that Kentucky’s abortion restrictions are out of step with public opinion, Kentucky voters rejected a ballot initiative designed to curb abortion rights.

With abortion becoming a bigger issue in state legislatures and state courts, abortion rights advocates are pouring millions of dollars into state Supreme Court races.

This year, in Pennsylvania, Democrat Dan McCaffery won an open seat on the state Supreme Court after Planned Parenthood and the ACLU ran tons of digital ads backing McCaffery over Republican Carolyn Carluccio. The state has a Democratic governor, but groups supporting abortion rights say they want to keep any future Republican state government from restricting abortion.

LU Staff

LU Staff

Promoting and defending liberty, as defined by the nation’s founders, requires both facts and philosophical thought, transcending all elements of our culture, from partisan politics to social issues, the workings of government, and entertainment and off-duty interests. Liberty Unyielding is committed to bringing together voices that will fuel the flame of liberty, with a dialogue that is lively and informative.


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