Abortion Elections Across America

In some states, the abortion itself will be right on the ballot. California voters will consider a constitutional amendment that would enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution. “It’s absolutely a viable option for other states — and one that lawmakers and advocates elsewhere are also working on,” Timmaraju told me. In Michigan, to take one example, activists are collecting signatures for a proposed constitutional amendment that would protect people’s right to make their own decisions about reproductive health care.

After the Supreme Court’s decision in June, none of these battles come as a complete surprise. Indeed, in the majority opinion in DobbsAlito framed the overthrow of roe deer as a victory for the American democratic process. In finding a national right to abortion in the Constitution in 1973, he argued, the then Supreme Court had “usurped the power to deal with a matter of profound moral and social importance” and “has short-circuited the democratic process by closing it off to the vast number of Americans who disagreed on all counts with roe deer.” Dissenters, for their part, argued that the point of a constitutional right was that it was not a matter of political debate.

In most cases, the democratic process goes through state legislatures. But the Supreme Court’s decision will also force a much wider range of elected offices to navigate abortion politics in the future. Even in states that criminalize the procedure, local prosecutors could use the discretion of their offices to refuse to enforce these laws. In Georgia, Mississippi and Texas, where state legislatures have enacted strict abortion bans, some district attorneys have already pledged not to prosecute abortion-related cases. Their commitments could raise the stakes in future elections for these positions.

Leave a Comment