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Abortion access could hinge on state election results

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RALEIGH, North Carolina – Online ads in a state Senate race in some suburbs of Raleigh, North Carolina, make an ominous claim, similar to one repeated across the country ahead of the Nov. 8 election: The Republican nominee “wants deprive us of our reproductive rights”.

Republican Mark Cavaliero says the Planned Parenthood-affiliated political action committee behind the ads is misrepresenting his views, which he says stops short of endorsing a comprehensive ban on abortion in one of the Southern states with the fewest abortion restrictions. “There should be some limit,” he said in an interview. “Where is this boundary is up for discussion.”

The same theme resonates in elections across the country in the first national election since the U.S. Supreme Court in June overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that protected the right to abortion nationwide.

Now, it’s a state-by-state issue that is the subject of ballot measures in some states and is a major issue in many elections across the United States on November 8. Election results for governors, state legislators, Supreme Court justices and attorneys general could determine abortion access. Beyond that, a nationwide ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy has been proposed to Congress.

Abortion rights groups and Democratic candidates are sounding the alarm that Republicans would limit access. Republicans, even those who supported banning abortion, campaign mostly on other issues, including inflation and crime.

Yet it is clear that some Republican victories could lead to abortion restrictions.

“We have states like Kansas, Pennsylvania, even Georgia and Wisconsin where the governor races or the state legislature races could determine maybe where those states go on abortion rights, even if abortion isn’t directly on the ballot,” Linda Goler said. Blount, president of Black Women’s Health Imperative.

Carol Tobias, chair of the National Committee for the Right to Life, also said the election results will shape abortion policy. “If Republicans get elected, maybe we can pass some measures,” she said in an interview.

In North Carolina, where both houses of the legislature are under GOP control, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has twice vetoed bills that would have restricted abortion, which is currently banned after 20 weeks. pregnancy, with small exceptions for urgent medical emergencies for pregnant women. women.

The equation could change if Republicans can secure two more seats in the state Senate and three in the House, giving the party enough membership to override the vetoes of Cooper, whose term lasts another two years.

That’s why Planned Parenthood Action PAC North Carolina ran ads targeting Cavaliero and other Republicans in districts where voting margins are expected to be tight. This is part of a national campaign that planned to spend $50 million.

Democratic incumbent Sydney Batch recounted at a recent campaign event how, when she was at the State House in 2019, she was present to vote against a veto waiver even though she was recovering from a mastectomy.

“My colleagues and I will continue to show up because we believe the medical decisions and bodily autonomy of every woman in North Carolina should be in their hands,” she said.

Cavaliero said he doesn’t want to ban abortion altogether, and he’s not the “anti-abortion extremist” the ad calls him.

“I take a very reasonable position,” he said. “I feel like at some point in pregnancy, abortion becomes a real issue.”

While Republican lawmakers in North Carolina have backed restricting abortion, there is no consensus on how to do so.

It’s been a theme since the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June turned the bans into realities, leaving even abortion opponents divided on the specifics.

The two states where lawmakers have passed new bans since June — Indiana, where enforcement is on hold amid a legal challenge, and West Virginia — did so only after debates that have leads to include exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest.

Polls have shown that most voters want abortion to remain legal. That was reflected in the first election on the issue since Roe was unseated, when Kansas voters rejected a ballot measure in August that would have allowed lawmakers to tighten restrictions or ban abortion.

Kansas Democrats are mobilizing voters by focusing on abortion access.

At a recent meeting in the town of Wamego, local Democrats wrote postcards to voters urging them to protect the right to abortion. Kathy Swenson, a 71-year-old retired teacher, summed up the message: “If you think your rights are protected only because of August 2, you are wrong.

Governor Laura Kelly, a Democrat in a state where Republicans control the Legislature, is seeking re-election. His Republican opponent, Derek Schmidt, and GOP nominee for attorney general Kris Kobach have vowed to defend the existing restrictions against legal challenges.

Three years after a state Supreme Court ruling that found the Kansas Constitution protects the right to abortion, Kansans for Life is urging supporters to vote against keeping five of the six justices on the ballot of voting.

Also closely watched is the governor’s race in Arizona, where a ban on abortions after 15 weeks’ gestation is in effect as courts decide whether to allow a law to be enforced that would ban abortions at all stages of pregnancy. the pregnancy.

In Pennsylvania, the election of a new governor could maintain the status quo – abortions allowed for up to 24 weeks – or install a Republican-controlled government that should roll back abortion rights. The current governor, Democrat Tom Wolf, vetoed restrictions passed by the GOP-controlled legislature.

Democratic candidate Josh Shapiro has made abortion access a big part of his campaign, raising it at a recent event with union members in Philadelphia. “On the other side, they love to talk about a good game about freedom, don’t they?” Shapiro said. “Let me tell you something: it’s not freedom to tell women what they have the right to do with their bodies.”

Republican Doug Mastriano used his opposition to abortion to help win the primary, saying “life” was the most important issue. He played down that view during the general election campaign, cutting it out of his stump speech and handing the microphone over to his wife, Rebecca, to bring up.

“As conservatives, as Republicans, we strongly believe in women’s rights,” she said at a rally in Erie in October. “In fact, we carry the torch on that. First, we believe in a woman’s right to be born.

Since the Supreme Court ruling, abortion bans at any stage of pregnancy have been passed or implemented in a dozen states. In one 13th, Wisconsin, clinics stopped offering abortions amid uncertainty over the enforcement of an 1849 ban.

There, Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul is suing to overturn the ban – a move backed by Democratic Governor Tony Evers. Both are up for election this year in a state where Republicans control the Legislature.

GOP gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels backed the ban in the primary. He now says that if elected he would sign a bill granting exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest.

In liberal Oregon, one of the few states not to restrict abortion, the issue looms large in the gubernatorial election.

Republican Christine Drazan said she would uphold the law if elected governor of a state that has helped fund abortion care for women across the Northwest.

During a debate in September, Democrat Tina Kotek said that was not enough.

“A governor can do a lot of damage even if there’s a law in place: shutting down agencies, not being a champion, not shifting resources to help Oregonians,” she said. .

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Mulvihill reported from Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Associated Press writers Scott Bauer in Madison, Wisconsin; John Hanna in Topeka, Kansas; Marc Levy in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Andrew Selsky in Salem, Oregon; and Lindsay Whitehurst in Washington contributed to this article.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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