What the Midterm Elections mean for Reproductive Rights

by Agalby Morel

Democratic and Democrat-aligned groups raised $80 million from national groups in the week following the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. The Democratic Governors Association launched a new fund early this month to elect governors in states where they’ll have the biggest impact on abortion rights in an effort to motivate voters to take action in the midterm elections.

There are seven states where the results of the midterms could decide whether abortion is protected or banned: Kansas, Pennsylvania, Arizona, North Carolina, Michigan, and Georgia.


The first state where abortion will be on the ballot in 2022 is Kansas. Its state Supreme Court has previously ruled that the state constitution implicitly protects abortion rights, but that could change when Kansans head to the ballot box on Aug. 2 to vote on a state constitutional amendment that says that the Kansas Constitution does not protect abortion rights and explicitly gives the Republican-controlled state legislature the authority to legislate on the issue.


Abortion is currently legal in Pennsylvania until the 24th week of pregnancy (after which there are very few exemptions), and it’s likely to stay that way at least through the midterms. If Republican gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano, a state senator, becomes Pennsylvania’s next governor, he has indicated he would support a total ban on abortion, with no exceptions for the life of the mother. Political scientists believe that the race leans toward Democratic candidate Josh Shapiro, the state’s attorney general, who has vowed to veto any bill restricting abortion. Howeve, even if Shapiro wins the midterms, it’s unlikely that Democrats would be able to enable abortion protections into state law.


Starting in September, abortion in Arizona will be restricted to 15 weeks, except in the event of life-threatening medical emergencies. Any further changes to the state’s legal code will likely depend on which party controls the state government after the 2022 election.


Since the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Wisconsin clinics have been proceeding as if abortion is now illegal in the state based on an 1849 law banning the procedure, except to save the life of the mother. However, state Attorney General Josh Kaul, a Democrat, has said he won’t enforce the ban, and Democratic Gov. Tony Evers promised to pardon any doctors convicted of performing an abortion. But Kaul and Evers could both lose reelection in 2022. Evers’s loss would be especially consequential- not only might doctors once again face jail time for performing abortions if the 1849 ban is determined to be operative.

North Carolina

Abortion is still legal in North Carolina, though the Supreme Court’s decision could pave the way for the courts to reinstate the state’s 20-week abortion ban, which was ruled unconstitutional in 2019. But state Senate President Phil Berger and state House Speaker Tim Moore — both Republicans — have said they will not pass any new abortion-related laws this year.


the courts may decide the future of abortion in the state. There is currently a 1931 state law  on the books that bans abortion, except when the mother’s life is in danger. But if the courts don’t issue a ruling soon, its possible voters will decide first via a ballot initiative.


Unlike other Southern states, Georgia didn’t have a law in place that automatically banned abortion before Roe was overturned. Heading into the midterm election, politicians are looking to see whether Democrat Stacey Abrams can defeat Republican Gov Brian Kemp in their rematch where Kemp has said his goal is to fully implement the measures contained within the six-week ban.


In the following months, we’ll see how the overturning of Roe v. Wade will affect all sectors of the medical care industry and the privacy of individuals. The decision that was made to overturn Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022 will affect generations to follow. The Supreme Court may have overturned the right to abortions, but we must also acknowledge that this will affect other aspects of reproductive justice that affect all menstruators.

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