Monday, July 15, 2024

Abortion remains a significant issue in this year’s elections, with several consequential contests in various states testing its political impact. Since the Supreme Court invalidated the federal right to an abortion in 2022, the issue has become a focal point of parties’ electoral strategies. Democrats in Kentucky are utilizing the state’s near-total ban on abortions, resulting from the fall of Roe v. Wade, to criticize their Republican opponent as an extremist. In Ohio, a ballot question will determine how far the country has shifted politically towards abortion rights. Meanwhile, in Virginia, where there is no abortion ban, Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin is presenting Democrats as “extreme” while supporting a 15-week ban. These contests serve as a preview of how abortion will influence future elections and reveal the effectiveness of each party’s approach. Regardless of political affiliation, strategists agree that abortion remains a powerful issue for Democrats, particularly in states where Republicans may introduce further restrictions. Democrats have successfully won all six ballot measures on abortion since Roe was overturned. The outcome of the Ohio contest this year holds significant implications for abortion rights efforts in other states. In Kentucky, Democratic Governor Andy Beshear is testing how abortion may mobilize his coalition. The state has become embroiled in a political battle over abortion regulation since Roe was overturned. However, even if Beshear wins re-election, changing the state’s abortion law would be challenging due to Republican control of the Legislature. Not all Democrats in red states have followed Beshear’s approach, leveraging the issue on a race-by-race basis. In conservative states like Mississippi and Louisiana, Democratic candidates have promoted their “pro-life” stance while focusing on issues like Medicaid expansion. Meanwhile, in Virginia, Republicans, led by Glenn Youngkin, are taking a mitigated approach, positioning themselves as supportive of a 15-week ban while not entirely banning abortion, unlike neighboring states. Republican strategists are advising their candidates to embrace a 15-week ban with exceptions for rape, incest, and the woman’s physical health. This position remains popular among the general public. Despite the efforts to reclaim the “extremist” label, Democrats argue that the Republican strategy faces significant challenges. Polls indicate that a majority of Americans support restrictions on abortion after 15 weeks, but abortion before that stage remains the norm.

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