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Midterm elections | Abortion rights activists rejoice in ‘historic’ victories



(Washington) Defenders of the right to abortion rejoiced on Wednesday to have recorded “historic” victories in the midterm elections in the United States, including in the very conservative state of Kentucky.

After the U-turn by the Supreme Court which, in June, gave each state the freedom to ban abortions on their soil, the right to abortion had imposed itself with a bang in the countryside.

Posing as a champion of women’s rights, Democratic President Joe Biden had made it a central theme of his speech with the hope of mobilizing his electoral base in this ballot traditionally unfavorable to the ruling party.

The organization Planned Parenthood, which runs many clinics performing abortions in the country, is convinced that this strategy has “changed the game” by increasing the participation “of Democrats, women and young people”.

Although the results in Congress are still up in the air, “it is very clear that abortion rights have redefined this election” since the announced rout of the Democrats did not take place, commented its president Alexis McGill Johnson during an interview. a press briefing.

Questioned by the Edison Research Institute at the exit of the polls, 27% of voters cited the defense of this right as the result of their votes just behind inflation at 31%.

But above all, “abortion won in all the states where there was a referendum”, applauded the organization Women’s March on Twitter.

” Overjoyed ”

Voters in California, Vermont and Michigan, where abortions are legal, agreed to include the right to abortion in their Constitution to protect it if local elected officials tried to attack it in the future.

These results were expected in these three Democratic-majority states. But voters in Kentucky, a conservative and religious state in the central United States, also rejected a proposal hostile to abortion, and, according to preliminary results, those in very rural Montana did the same.

“We are overjoyed”, “this is a historic victory”, commented Elisabeth Smith of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Abortion rights advocates, regardless of political affiliation, and from very different states, have gone to the polls to protect or expand this right,” she added in an exchange with the AFP.

By August, nearly 60% of voters in Kansas, a Republican stronghold, had already rejected an anti-abortion amendment thanks to strong turnout.

All these polls confirm, according to Alexis McGill Johnson, that “the defense of abortion is a winning strategy”.

“Keep on fighting”

While hailing in turn a “historic victory”, Anthony Romero, director of the powerful civil rights organization ACLU, stressed that the “work was far from over”.

“Each person deserves to be able to make their own personal decisions about their pregnancy and we will not stop fighting until this vision is realized across the country,” he noted in a statement.

Since the Supreme Court ruling, some twenty states have completely banned or severely restricted the right to abortion on their soil. And the result of the elections does not change anything… for the moment.

In Kentucky, however, the state Supreme Court is due to review next week the law which, since June, has prohibited women from having abortions even in cases of incest or rape.

The hearing “seems to have been scheduled deliberately after the election” and the referendum proposing to engrave in stone that nothing in the local Constitution protects the right to abortion, remarks Elisabeth Smith.

For her, “the firm rejection by the voters of this ‘proposal two’ should weigh on the Court’s analysis”.

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