Sunday, December 04, 2022

USA: After the elections, states are considering measures against abortion

Minneapolis, Minn. ( Associated Press) – Democrats hope to use their newfound political control in some states to ensure women have access to abortion, and their efforts to deepen restrictions after faring worse than expected in some Republican strongholds midterm polls. can reduce.

Even after their progress this month, Democrats do not have the power to enshrine abortion rights into federal law. It puts the abortion debate clearly up for states to navigate and rework the patchwork of laws that the Supreme Court overturned in Roe v. Get off

There will still be political diversity: In Minnesota, Democrats plan to add abortion rights to state law. In the Republican bastion of Florida, governors have been talking about more restrictions but haven’t settled on a plan. In Pennsylvania, Democrats’ rebellion means they could likely block Republicans from adding anti-abortion language to the state’s constitution, and legislative impasse continues in divided states like Wisconsin.

“The real uncertainty is how far states will go” with abortion restrictions, said Mary Ziegler, a professor and expert on reproductive policy at the University of California, Davis School of Law. After the midterm elections, some states may think twice before imposing stricter restrictions.

But, he warned, some Conservative MPs might say: “I don’t see a problem. We the people are fine. We won our election and our voters want an abortion ban.”

Repeal of Roe, which established abortion rights nationwide, was widely unpopular among voters. According to VoteCast, a poll of more than 94,000 voters conducted for The Associated Press by NORC (National Opinion Research Center) at the University of Chicago, nearly 6 in 10 said they were angry or dissatisfied with the decision, while nearly 1 in 10 4 is satisfied. Among Democratic voters, nearly 6 in 10 say the ruling angered them.

Megan Peterson, executive director of Gender Justice, a nonprofit organization, said, “Whatever people’s personal feelings about abortion, they are very clear that they do not want the government and politicians to take care of their health.” for equal rights.

Minnesota does not have a law guaranteeing access to abortion, but pregnancy termination is protected by a 1995 state Supreme Court decision citing a woman’s right to privacy. After an election that would put Democrats in charge of both houses of the legislature and the governor’s office for the first time in eight years, House Speaker Melissa Hartman said that abortion rights would be a priority in state legislation when the session begins in January. ,

In the disputed state of Michigan, voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the state constitution enshrining abortion rights and affirming an individual’s right to make abortion-related decisions about pregnancy and other reproductive services without intervention .

A priority, though, is to take the 1931 law criminalizing abortion off the books, said Winnie Brinks, the state Senate majority leader. Democrats took control of the House of Representatives and the Senate this month. When the new legislature is sworn in, it will be the first time since 1983 that the party will have full control of the state government.

Brinks said Democrats eventually want to push through other legislation focused on reproductive rights.

“People were very clear that they value their reproductive freedom at a very high level and we want to make sure we maintain that as well,” she said.

Elsewhere, a legislative impasse may be on the horizon.

In Wisconsin, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers won re-election, while Republicans increased their majority in the state legislature, but fell short of their goal of a supermajority able to override the veto.

Republican Robin Vos, speaker of the state Assembly, renewed his call to pass a bill allowing for rape and incest exceptions and other changes to the 1849 law to ensure that the state ban would withstand court challenges. . But Evers expected a challenge in court, saying he would veto any bill that would keep the ban in place.

“I don’t see a way to resolve this at the legislative level,” Evers said.

Pennsylvania voters have caused nearly a dozen seats in the state House of Representatives to turn over to Democrats in a move that could block Republican efforts to add anti-abortion language to the state constitution.

Nebraska Republicans want to ban abortion, but it appears the GOP has missed the 33 seats it needs in the officially nonpartisan, single-chamber state legislature to defeat those who want to vote for the barrier. use strategy. This could make it difficult for them to ban abortion, even though they control the legislature and hold every important position in the state.

Other Republican strongholds are running into obstacles for sanctions.

In Kansas, the Legislature retained its strong anti-abortion majority, but opponents of pregnancy termination have been constrained by a 2019 state Supreme Court decision declaring abortion a “fundamental” right under the state constitution .

In August, voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposed constitutional amendment to reverse that decision. Instead, opponents of abortion are examining other proposals.

Rep. Dan Hawkins, a Wichita Republican who is expected to become House speaker in January, said lawmakers are seeking to require health care providers to take all reasonable steps to save the life of a living child, even after an abortion attempt. Insist on the law. ,

Hawkins said, “You have to do something that you think is necessary to have a chance of getting the votes.”

Voters in Montana, where Republicans hold the supreme majority in the Legislature, rejected a similar ballot measure on November 8. Five days later, a legislator requested that a bill be drafted “to establish that an infant born alive is a person”. It has not yet been drafted, but another bill already prepared for next year seeks to ban abortion at all stages of pregnancy.

In Kentucky, voters rejected a Republican-backed ballot measure aimed at denying any constitutional protections for abortion, revealing a clear gap between voter opinion and the Republican-dominated Legislature’s expectations. Which led to an almost complete ban on abortion.

Amber Duke, acting executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), said, “The people of Kentucky have spoken, and their answer is no, to extremist politicians who ban abortion and take personal medical decisions on their behalf.” Let’s take it.” in English) of Kentucky.

This week, a judge in Georgia struck down a ban on abortions after about six weeks’ gestation, ruling that it violated the country’s constitution and federal Supreme Court precedent when it was enacted in 2019 because the Roe ruling still applies. was pending. But the judge left the door open for the Legislature to reconsider the ban.

In Florida, where the Republican Party further consolidated control, the issue was also muddled. The state banned abortion after 15 weeks, with the exception of rape or incest, during the 2022 legislative session.

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis won in a landslide and the House and Senate went from being solidly Republican to having a top Republican in each chamber. The governor and legislative leaders have said they support the new abortion restrictions, but no specific language has been proposed.

Christine Matthews, a pollster who has worked for Republicans, said there could also be more debate among conservative lawmakers about how far the restrictions should go, as happened this year in Indiana and West Virginia, where at any given time Laws banning abortion were passed. pregnancy, but with the exception of cases of rape and incest.

“For the first time, some of these legislators, mostly men, grappled with the fact that it is tough; It’s not all going in one direction,” Mathews said. “Those who support it as an affair between a woman and a doctor say, ‘Yeah, obviously.'”

Mulvihill reported from Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Associated Press writer Joy Cappelletti in Lansing, Michigan, was also contributing; Amy Beth Hanson, in Helena, Montana; Mark Scolforo, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; John Hanna, in Topeka, Kansas; Scott Bauer in Madison, Wisconsin; Josh Funk, in Omaha, Nebraska; and Brendan Farrington, in Tallahassee, Florida

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