Opinion polls have said it for years, and the 2022 US midterm election finally confirmed it: Americans are in favor of abortion rights.
Questions pertaining abortion were on the ballot in five states, and two gubernatorial races posed immediate consequences in terms of access to abortion. All of them, including in the Republican stronghold of Kentucky, went in favor of preserving abortion rights.
After the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, access to abortion remains under threat, banned, or severely limited in a majority of states. Yet the midterm results so far suggest that supporting measures against reproductive rights proved counterproductive for Republicans, who had better success galvanizing the anti-choice vote when the right to abortions was still a constitutional guarantee nationwide.
California, Michigan, and Vermont had proposed amendments that would add protection of abortion rights in their state constitutions. In all three states, the amendments appeared to pass with strong majorities: 77% in Vermont, where more than 95% votes have been counted; 56% in Michigan, with 87% votes in; and 65% in California, with 42% of votes counted.
In Kentucky, a Republican stronghold, a constitutional amendment to explicitly deny the right to abortion was on the ballot. It was rejected by 52.5% of voters, with 90% reporting.
Montana, another red state, voted against a referendum to force doctors to try and treat fetuses aborted due to medical conditions incompatible with life, and to impose criminal penalties on those who don’t. With 82% of votes counted, a majority of voters rejected the measure.
Political analysts had warned that American women weren’t going to be galvanized by the focus on abortion, and that putting reproductive rights at the center of the Democratic agenda was going to backfire. But voters showed up for abortion, essentially curbing what was expected to be a red wave, and demonstrating that the protection of fundamental women’s rights is supported by US voters of both major parties.
Data on voter turnout won’t be available for a while, but women are the largest group of US voters. According to the Center for American Women and Politics, a research initiative by Rutgers University, more than 74% women are registered to vote, compared to 70% men. Similarly, the US census found that nearly 10 million more women than men voted in the 2020 election.