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How abortion factors into five major elections on Tuesday

It’s Election Day. Results could serve as a barometer for key issues ahead of 2024’s presidential race. Abortion is directly on the ballot on Tuesday in Ohio and underscoring contests in several states.

By Elisha Brown - November 07, 2023
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Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin addresses the crowd during an early voting rally Thursday Sep. 21, 2023, in Petersburg, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin addresses the crowd during an early voting rally Thursday Sep. 21, 2023, in Petersburg, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

It’s Election Day. Results could serve as a barometer for key issues ahead of 2024’s presidential race.

Abortion is directly on the ballot on Tuesday in Ohio and underscoring contests in several states. Here’s a primer:

Ohio

Issue 1 asks voters whether to guarantee state constitutional rights to abortion, birth control, childbirth, fertility treatment and miscarriage management. The measure aims to codify abortion access through fetal viability — and beyond for medical emergencies. Ohio allows abortion through 22 weeks.

Republicans in the state have tried to thwart the ballot question for months, Ohio Capital Journal reports. In August, Ohio voters rejected a legislatively referred proposal that would have made it harder to change the state constitution. Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose admitted that effort was “100%” about defeating the reproductive rights initiative. After that measure failed, the Ohio Ballot Board, led by LaRose, approved a summary of today’s ballot question focusing primarily on abortion and not other kinds of reproductive care, a change advocates deemed intentionally misleading.

If voters approve Issue 1, reproductive rights will be safeguarded in the Ohio Constitution despite a GOP trifecta of power in state government. If the effort fails, a blocked six-week ban under review by the courts could eventually take effect.

Virginia

The General Assembly is divided in Virginia, but that could change depending on the commonwealth’s election results. All 140 legislative seats are up for grabs, Virginia Mercury reports. Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin is rallying his party around a 15-week abortion ban, a proposal the state party frames as the middle ground. Every Democratic candidate in a competitive race made protecting reproductive health a platform issue. Abortion is legal in the state through the first and second trimesters, and allowed in the third with caveats.

How abortion factors into five major elections on Tuesday
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin campaigns with Republican nominee for Michigan governor Tudor Dixon in Lansing on Aug. 27, 2022. (Andrew Roth | Michigan Advance)

Kentucky

Nothing about the near-total ban in Kentucky automatically changes after the gubernatorial election. But the two candidates — Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear and Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron — have made abortion a focus of their campaigns, per Kentucky Lantern.

Beshear ran ads featuring a prosecutor and sexual abuse survivor disparaging Cameron’s abortion stance. The pressure on Cameron led him to say he’d sign legislation allowing abortions for rape and incest victims if elected governor.

Pennsylvania

Whoever fills an open seat on the liberal-leaning Pennsylvania Supreme Court could be pivotal in opinions on abortion cases. Republican Carolyn Carluccio and Democrat Daniel McCaffery are vying for the vacant high court seat. The candidates recently talked to Pennsylvania Capital-Star about their backgrounds and judicial philosophies.

National abortion rights supporters and opponents have invested heavily in this race. Planned Parenthood PAC funded a seven-figure ad campaign to support McCaffery. Carluccio’s camp received millions from a group backed by a GOP mega-donor.

New Jersey

Every legislative seat is up for election today in New Jersey, which has protective laws on the books. Democrats, keen to keep their power, have run on reproductive rights, according to New Jersey Monitor. Republicans have dismissed their strategy, saying voters care more about the state spending and crime rates this cycle.


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