Impact of the 2010 election on abortion rights law

by on November 6, 2010  •  In Congress, Reproductive rights

From an analysis by Nancy Northrup of the Center for Reproductive Rights:

…[Tuesday’s] election was not a referendum on reproductive rights, but a reflection of voters’ deeply felt economic worries.  But reproductive rights will be collateral damage… 

Here are the results through a reproductive rights lens and what they mean for our work going forward. As you know, the political landscape of the country shifted significantly overnight with anti-choice forces increasing their strength in the U.S. House of Representatives, Senate, governorships and statehouses. The House of Representatives likely gained forty-nine anti-choice members with several races still being decided. The Senate retained a slim but diminished pro-choice majority with two races still being counted. There are already members of Congress who would use any means to block access to abortion, and they now have new allies. We anticipate that the anti-choice leadership in the House will aggressively attempt to push through measures designed to stop all health insurance policies from covering abortion services, even for those who work in the private sector and pay for premiums out of their own paychecks… 

While considerable focus is on Washington today, the states are likely to move more expeditiously to endanger women’s health and rights. They were already the primary battleground before this election, although the extremity of our opponents largely flew under the public’s radar screen.  In 2010, the Center tracked more than 600 anti-choice state bills. The sheer relentlessness of our opponents was on full display this year in Oklahoma, where the legislature enacted eight new anti-choice laws, four of which were vetoed by now-retiring Governor Brad Henry (the legislature then overrode three of them). In January, Governor Henry will be replaced by an anti-choice governor.  Governors in Kansas and Florida also vetoed extreme bills this year. Unfortunately they too were not standing for re-election and will be succeeded by anti-choice replacements.

Not all the results are in from the governors races, but here’s what we know. Twelve states will switch from pro-choice to anti-choice governors. In addition to those mentioned above, they are Iowa, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Three states will change from anti-choice to pro-choice or mixed-choice governors: Colorado, Nevada, and Rhode Island. Clearly, the overall landscape has become more challenging…


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