Three states to vote on pro-life measures in midterm elections
August 15, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – While abortion activists scramble to insulate abortion-on-demand from the potential fall of Roe v. Wade, pro-lifers are taking steps to expand legal protection of preborn babies in a post-Roe United States.
A total of three initiatives pertaining to abortion have made the November ballots for the 2018 midterm elections, according to Ballotpedia, all instigated by pro-lifers. Voters in Alabama and West Virginia will decide whether to add language to their state constitutions clarifying that they do not guarantee a “right” to abortions or abortion funding, with the former expressly recognizing the “sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children.”
A proposed constitutional amendment in Oregon, meanwhile, specifically seeks to forbid taxpayer funding of abortion. Pro-life activists finally secured a vote on it after multiple failed attempts to make the ballot in past elections.
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Such efforts have taken on a new urgency with the impending confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s nominee to replace the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. Pro-lifers are cautiously optimistic that he may provide the long-awaited fifth vote to overturn Roe.
Fearful of that same possibility, pro-abortion activists have taken steps of their own to codify and expand Roe’s provisions at the state level. Last month Massachusetts enacted legislation repealing the state’s unenforced, pre-Roe abortion and contraception bans, New York Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called for codifying Roe’s requirements in state law, and NARAL has launched a campaign attempting to get U.S. House members and candidates to commit to federal legislation forcing states to accept abortion-on-demand.
In July, pro-life activist Rebecca Kiessling warned that pro-abortion groups in states such as Iowa, North Dakota, and Minnesota are filing lawsuits claiming a “right” to abortion rooted in state constitutions rather than Roe, preventing those states from voting on their own pro-life laws regardless of what the U.S. Supreme Court does. Such efforts further highlight the significance of Alabama and West Virginia’s initiatives.
Alabama and West Virginia’s votes are not “about eradicating abortion" but rather "laying the groundwork” to do so after Roe, Florida State University law professor Mary Ziegler told Fox News. “They’re playing the long game, because if Roe is overturned, states will be able to go any way they want to. But West Virginia and Alabama are good places for pro-life activists and legislators to sharpen their skills should Roe be overturned.”
The news of Kennedy’s retirement came too late to inspire initiatives in other states for this year, Elizabeth Nash of the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute told Politico, but 2020 could easily see more.
“Assuming that we have the same legislative and gubernatorial composition, then I would expect over half the states to be voting on abortion restrictions,” she predicted.
Excluding Massachusetts, there remain nine states that never bothered to repeal their abortion laws after the Supreme Court rendered them unenforceable. Another four states have passed newer laws that will automatically ban abortion upon Roe’s fall, and in all the rest the issue will be left to voters to decide for themselves. Congress could pass a national abortion ban as well, citing its authority under the Fourteenth Amendment.
President Trump has told pro-lifers he needs more pro-life Republicans in Congress to help pro-life legislation reach his desk, while pro-life activists have warned that Democrats currently hold an advantage over the GOP in party registration going into November. Pro-life activists fear that by retaking the House of Representatives Democrats could not only block pro-life and pro-family legislation, but potentially enable an effort to impeach Trump.