Election Night 2022 brought some big wins for abortion access.
In addition to the wins and losses of individual politicians tracked throughout the night, three states voted, via ballot questions and measures, to codify abortion rights into their respective constitutions: California, Michigan and Vermont. Those states join Delaware, which did so in 2017, and New Jersey, which did so earlier this year.
In those states and beyond, progressive champions celebrated the wins, as the measures ensure that abortion is “protected long-term [in those states], and … that access is going to be there, no matter what our politicians do,” Sam Donnelly, the campaign manager for Vermont for Reproductive Liberty Ballot Committee, told CNN.
Heidi Sieck, co-founder and CEO of pro-abortion nonprofit #VOTEPROCHOICE, said in an emailed statement that “last night, the entire country got to see what so many of us have known for years: This is a pro-choice nation.”
A June 2022 Gallup poll backs this assertion – a reported a majority 55% of Americans identify themselves as pro-choice, an all-time high for the U.S. Researchers attributed this rise, in part, to the leak that preceded the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which had granted abortion access for decades on a federal level.
“[I]n all five instances where abortion was directly on the ballot, abortion rights won by popular vote,” Sieck noted of last night’s elections, referring additionally to two anti-abortion ballot measures in Kentucky and Montana that were both voted down.
In Michigan, the decision to codify abortion rights was especially surprising – and heartening – to activists. While California and Vermont have been reliably progressive-leaning states, Michigan has been a long-time battleground.
In moving to codify abortion access, voters have done a service not just for the state, but for the region, activists add. “In the Midwest, a lot of states have already banned abortion,” making the Wolverine state an “incredibly critical access point,” Ianthe Metzger of Planned Parenthood Federation of America told StatNews.
But with Roe v. Wade’s reversal still serving as the law of the federal land – and with prohibitive abortion measures still in place in more than half the nation’s states – progressive activists don’t feel they can rest for long.
“While we celebrate now, we’ll be back to work soon enough, focusing on new opportunities to regain lost ground,” says Sieck.