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The first election to put abortion rights to the test after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade appears unlikely to reshape the map of abortion access — at least not overnight. Though some races remain uncalled, voters in much of the country reinforced the status quo, choosing candidates who are likely to either maintain existing protections or restrictions in their states, or to deepen them.

Republican power did expand in some states, opening the door to further bans on abortion in the coming months. But elsewhere, Republicans fell short in key contests for control of state governments that would have allowed them to easily advance restrictions.

And voters in several states revealed broad support for abortion rights, with California, Michigan and Vermont enshrining lasting protections in their state constitutions and those in Kentucky and Montana rejecting anti-abortion measures.

In many places, the outcome of down-ballot races may prove as consequential for abortion access as those for governor or legislative seats. Shifts in power on state supreme courts are important to watch, as these courts can rule on challenges to new or existing abortion laws. Newly elected attorneys general will also have some say in their enforcement.

Democrats had hoped that Roe’s overturn would drive voters who support abortion rights to the polls in November, and their hopes were buoyed after Kansans defeated a proposed constitutional amendment to restrict abortion in August.

New constitutional protections approved by voters in three states will not only bolster local and regional access to abortion, but also may encourage other states to follow suit.

CaliforniaAbortion is already legal until viability.

Ballot measure affirming a right to abortion passed.

The state already has strong protections in place, and voters approved an amendment to the state Constitution to protect reproductive rights, including the right to abortion and contraceptives. The new amendment offers a safeguard that can be undone only by another voter referendum.

MichiganA near-total ban is blocked in court.

Ballot measure affirming a right to abortion passed.

Democratic governor reelected.

New Democratic majority in the state Legislature.

Democratic attorney general reelected.

A winning ballot measure will enshrine the right to abortion in Michigan and overturn an existing ban from 1931 that has already been blocked in court.

Michigan Democrats rode support for abortion rights to flip both chambers of the Legislature, giving them control of the state government for the first time in 40 years. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel, both Democrats who pledged to protect abortion rights, also won reelection.

VermontAbortion is already legal with no gestational limit.

Ballot measure affirming a right to abortion passed.

A large majority of voters backed a proposal to amend the state Constitution to guarantee a right to personal reproductive autonomy. State lawmakers had first passed legislation that recognized abortion as a fundamental right in 2019 to begin the multiyear amendment process.

In some states that already limit abortion access, races up and down the ballot removed Democratic lawmakers who stood in the way of restrictions. With fewer obstacles, Republican majorities are expected to pass new or more restrictive bans in the months to come.

“We’re going to see states that have already banned abortion try to adopt other restrictions, too,” said Elizabeth Nash, state policy analyst for the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights. She pointed to possibilities including harsher criminal penalties for providers and allowing attorneys general to prosecute local abortion cases.

FloridaA 15-week ban is already in effect.

Republican supermajority secured in state Legislature.

Republican governor reelected.

Republicans secured supermajorities in both chambers of the Florida Legislature, putting them on a path to further restrict abortion. And they will likely have the support of Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican who won reelection in a landslide and said previously that he intends to “expand pro-life protections.” Florida already bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, but legislators may push for a six-week or total ban.

The Florida Supreme Court recognized a right to abortion in the state Constitution three decades ago, but the court has become more conservative in recent years, and all judges up for election held their seats. They may reject a challenge to the state’s 15-week ban or rule in favor of future abortion restrictions.

OhioA six-week ban is blocked in court.

Conservative majority secured on state Supreme Court.

Republican governor reelected.

Republicans won all three seats up for election on the Ohio Supreme Court, and Gov. Mike DeWine will appoint a new judge to a vacant seat, securing a stronger conservative majority. A ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, which DeWine signed in 2019, is currently blocked by a lower court in Ohio but is expected to reach the state’s Supreme Court next year.

The court has not previously ruled on abortion rights, but the new makeup “could have a significant impact on cases related to abortion,” said Douglas Keith, counsel for democracy programs at the Brennan Center for Justice.

Although voters in many states affirmed the status quo on abortion, in a few places the results of the midterms were more mixed. One unexpected outcome was voters’ rejection of an anti-abortion ballot measure in Kentucky, a state that bans nearly all abortions. And split partisan control of state governments in a few other states may mean gridlock on abortion legislation for the time being.

ArizonaA 15-week ban is already in effect. A near-total ban is blocked in court.

Democratic governor elected.

Democrats eked out a victory in a close race for governor, a critical position for abortion policy in Arizona. Republicans held their control of the state Senate and were on track to maintain a majority in the House of Representatives, but Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs has said she will veto any new anti-abortion legislation.

An appeals court has temporarily blocked enforcement of an 1864 law that banned abortion, but a separate ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy is in effect. Hobbs is unlikely to tackle either law without the support of the state Legislature. That means the outcome of the attorney general’s race, which is headed for a recount, could have a significant effect on abortion access in the state. The Democratic candidate, Kris Mayes, has said she will not enforce the 1864 ban. Her Republican opponent, Abraham Hamadeh, has said he will.

KansasAbortion is already legal until 22 weeks.

Democratic governor reelected.

Republican attorney general elected.

The Democratic incumbent, Laura Kelly, held on to the governor’s office, though Republicans retained a veto-proof majority in the Legislature and could try to enact restrictions on abortion in next year’s legislative session. The newly elected Republican attorney general, Kris Kobach, has said he wants to make Kansas the most anti-abortion state in the country.

In August, Kansans decisively rejected an amendment that would have removed protections for abortion rights from the state Constitution, which the state’s Supreme Court recognized in 2019. Six of seven judges on the court held their seats in the midterm elections, despite efforts by conservative groups to oust five of them.

KentuckyA near-total ban is already in effect.

Ballot measure denying any right to abortion rejected.

Kentucky already bans nearly all abortions, but the midterms signaled some support for abortion rights: A majority of voters opposed a ballot measure to amend the state Constitution to say there is no right to abortion. That rejection will not overturn the existing ban, but the vote could affect the state Supreme Court’s decision in a lawsuit challenging the ban that began Nov. 15.

Republicans in the state Legislature maintained their veto-proof majority over the Democratic governor, Andy Beshear, who has denounced the ban. But two candidates for the state Supreme Court who were backed by anti-abortion groups did not win their races.

MontanaA 20-week ban is blocked in court.

Ballot measure mandating care for infants “born alive” rejected.

Montana voters rejected a ballot measure that would have required medical interventions to save those it described as “born-alive” infants and which opponents said was designed to curtail abortion rights. But voters also supported the incumbent governor, Greg Gianforte, a Republican who is determined to ban abortion. Republicans also gained a supermajority in the state Legislature, giving them broad power that neither party has garnered in the state in nearly a century.

The Republican-controlled Legislature has long tried to ban abortion, but the Montana Supreme Court has stood in the way. The court recognized abortion as a constitutional right in 1999 and has blocked multiple restrictions since. A progressive judge held her seat on the court, despite efforts by conservative groups to replace her.

NebraskaAbortion is already legal until 22 weeks.

Republicans are likely to fall just short of a supermajority in the Nebraska Legislature, meaning that abortion may remain legal in the state. Republicans will still hold a majority of the officially nonpartisan Legislature, and the newly elected governor, Jim Pillen, is stringently anti-abortion. Officials may pursue a 12-week ban or other restrictions next year, but Democrats are likely to hold enough seats to filibuster any attempts, as they did in April, to ban abortion outright. It is possible, though, that anti-abortion Democrats could side instead with Republicans on proposed prohibitions.

North CarolinaA 20-week ban is already in effect.

Conservative majority secured on state Supreme Court.

Republicans won a new majority on the state Supreme Court, flipping two seats and shifting the balance of power in favor of conservatives. The court has not ruled on abortion restrictions in the past, but the new conservative majority may be more likely to reject any challenges to future bans.

Enacting an abortion ban in North Carolina is not likely until at least 2025, however, when Gov. Roy Cooper’s term expires. Cooper, a Democrat, opposes abortion restrictions, and Republicans narrowly failed to secure a supermajority in the Legislature that would have allowed them to override his veto.

WisconsinA near-total ban is already in effect.

Democratic governor reelected.

Democratic attorney general reelected.

Democrats held on to executive power in Wisconsin, allowing them to pursue a challenge to the state’s ban on most abortions, an 1849 law that took effect when Roe was overturned. Josh Kaul, the incumbent attorney general, has sued to block the ban. Republicans fell short of enough seats in the state Legislature to secure a veto-proof majority over Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat who supports abortion rights and has trumpeted his role as a block on legislative efforts to restrict the procedure.


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