Women's Rights Win Big

[ Posted Wednesday, November 8th, 2023 – 16:27 UTC ]

What was previously merely obvious has now become downright undeniable: the right to have an abortion is the most potent political issue around right now. When women's reproductive rights are on the ballot, it is a winning issue. Every time. This is going to help Democrats and continue to hurt Republicans for as long as women's rights are not universally protected in every state in the Union.

Looking back, it is rather amusing now to remember that right after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, many political pundits were predicting that the issue would fade so quickly in the public eye that it probably wouldn't even resonate in last year's midterms (held only a few months after the decision was handed down). "Voters have short attention spans," they told each other, "so by November everyone will have forgotten all about it -- or it won't change their vote, at the very least."

They were wrong.

I personally never bought this line of reasoning, since what was lost wasn't some minor political battle but was a fundamental human and constitutional right. People -- especially the women who were directly affected -- don't just "forget" something like that. It doesn't just "fade into the background." It remains an enormous issue and it motivates voters who care about it in a gigantic and very personal way.

Since Roe was overturned, the issue was put up for a direct vote in six states. In some, the measure on the ballot enshrined abortion rights. In others, the measure was written to forever bar abortions. It didn't matter -- in every case, the abortion rights side won. Even in deeply red states like Kansas.

Last night, Ohio became the seventh state in that unbroken streak. They amended their state's constitution to guarantee women have full reproductive rights. This means that up until the Roe standard of viability, the state government is no longer able to pass a law to remove the right to an elective abortion. The People have spoken, and the politicians can no longer do anything about it, period.

But this string of victories isn't limited to just ballot initiatives dealing directly with abortion. Abortion has become a key issue in many political races as well. And abortion rights are winning the day in those elections as well. Wisconsin had a very hard-fought race for a state supreme court justice's seat, and the pro-choice candidate won in a landslide. Last night, Pennsylvania followed suit and elected a pro-choice candidate to their own highest bench.

At the state level, governors' races and legislative races are also hinging on protecting women's rights as well. The Democratic governor of Kentucky just won re-election in part by campaigning strongly for abortion rights. An anti-abortion Democrat lost the governor's race in Mississippi (although this was not the sole reason for this loss, to be fair). But the best news came out of Virginia.

In their last major election, Virginia surprised many by electing a Republican governor. He rode to victory on being more mellow than Donald Trump in personality, but he's still a very conservative guy. His big issue was "parents' rights," which has somewhat faded since his election. But his Republicans did also win control of one of the state legislature's chambers as well. Last night's election was supposed to vault Glenn Youngkin onto the national Republican stage in a big way, since he thought he had the answer to Democrats winning in so many places on abortion. He tried to flip the script and paint the Democrats as being the extremists on the issue. Republicans were the reasonable ones, he told the voters. He used softened language (referring to a "limit" rather than a "ban" on abortions) to try to win over suburban voters to elect enough Republicans to take over the entire legislature. If he had been successful, he might have used the opportunity to launch a late-starting presidential campaign (or, at least, that's what a whole bunch of political pundits hoped for, at any rate).

Democrats running in these races ran strongly on protecting women's rights. They quite correctly painted the Republicans as the extremists -- the ones who wanted to take away a woman's freedom to choose. They campaigned heavily on the issue. And when the votes were counted, Democrats wound up in control of both the state's legislative chambers. This will thwart not only Youngkin's abortion restriction plans, but also all kinds of other conservative nonsense he had been teeing up. His hands will be tied for the remainder of his term. And nobody's talking about him running for president in 2024 this morning, that's for sure.

Unlike what was blithely predicted, abortion rights are not some fleeting issue that the voters have forgotten about (or simply don't care about). Every election since the Dobbs decision was handed down has proven that. The issue is the biggest motivator in politics right now, for voters. And it causes plenty of Republicans to cross the aisle and vote in support of women's rights, no matter what the Republican Party tells them. It drives turnout to exceptional levels. And it's not the type of issue that voters tend to change their minds about after seeing a 30-second political ad.

This will all still be true in 2024, one year from now. There may be abortion rights initiatives on as many as ten or eleven states' ballots. Politicians will be asked about the specifics of their position on abortion. Democrats will be on the offense, and Republicans will be crouching defensively. We'll almost certainly see this later tonight, in the third Republican debate.

What was interesting about the politics of the issue was that before Roe was overturned, abortion was largely a Republican issue. Republican politicians loved to stake out extreme stances on it and would use it as a bludgeon against Democrats. Democrats shied away from expressing their support (just in general, as some Democrats have always been strong voices for women's rights, to be fair), for a number of reasons. One, people didn't consider it a real threat -- Roe had been in place for so long it just didn't matter. Two, the Democratic Party was still split on the issue, as there were plenty of anti-abortion Democrats still around. And three, it was a contentious issue that Democrats didn't have an official position on -- there was a lot of nuance and subtle differences on where each politician stood.

Since Roe was overturned, this entire dynamic has flipped. Republicans are like the dog who caught a car and doesn't know what to do with it -- they never actually had a cohesive party position that everyone agreed upon, so they have no blueprint for what to call for in each state or nationwide. Now it is their nuance and their subtle differences that are on display. And Democrats have lost all their timidity on the issue, after having realized how potent it is with the voters. Democrats are leaning into campaigning on protecting women's rights. And it is the Republicans who are increasingly becoming timid about even mentioning the issue (since they know how unpopular their stance truly is).

Hopefully, in more and more states the issue will eventually fade into the background -- right after a big win for women's rights. How many Republicans in the Ohio state government are going to bring abortion up again in their next election? Precious few, I would venture to guess. The power to regulate abortions up to viability has been removed from their hands, so anything they say on it is essentially meaningless to begin with. And they now know the extent of the unpopularity of their position. So why bother even talking about it to the voters? Or to put it another way, how many Republicans run strong campaigns against gay marriage anymore? They lost. There's nothing they can really do about that. So they have moved on. Abortion -- in the states where the people do successfully remove the power from the politicians' hands -- will become a settled issue.

That's not going to happen everywhere, and it's not going to happen all at once. There are many more battles to fight in this struggle. We may eventually get to a point where women in the entire nation have the same rights again, but it is going to take a Democratic trifecta -- holding the House, the Senate, and the Oval Office simultaneously -- before we get there. Or it'll take a few major shifts in the makeup of the Supreme Court (which could take a lot longer). One way or another, we'll get to the inevitable end to this path. But it could take many years to get there.

For now, the fight continues in state after state. As mentioned, abortion rights are going to be on quite a few state ballots next year, and even if the perfect record of seven wins out of seven doesn't hold up next November, my guess is that in most states the voters will choose freedom over government intervention in their most private decisions. Democratic politicians will campaign heavily on their support for women's rights, while Republicans will not want to even talk about the subject. And at this point the safe bet is that supporting abortion rights is going to be just as big a winner next time around as it was last night.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


26 Comments on “Women's Rights Win Big”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Looking back, it is rather amusing now to remember that right after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, many political pundits were predicting that the issue would fade so quickly in the public eye that it probably wouldn't even resonate in last year's midterms

    Amusing is one word for it. They must have been a bunch of misogynistic men who don't love or respect women.

  2. [2] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I personally never bought this line of reasoning, since what was lost wasn't some minor political battle but was a fundamental human and constitutional right.

    I knew you didn't! :-)

  3. [3] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I personally never bought this line of reasoning, since what was lost wasn't some minor political battle but was a fundamental human and constitutional right.

    I knew you didn't! :-)

    So, 2024 will be the first presidential election post-Roe and I'm thinking that fact alone will more than trump a lot of the angst over Biden being the Democratic nominee. I suppose he's more than capable of screwing it up but, I hope Biden starts leaning into this issue, full-throttle.

  4. [4] 
    dsws wrote:

    NATO's process for allowing additional countries to join was decided when the original treaty was ratified by its original members. Biden had nothing to do with it. Letting Russia change it would be a bad idea. Just opening negotiations to let Russia change it would also be a bad idea.

  5. [5] 
    dsws wrote:

    When you ask people about abortion, large majorities of eligible, registered, likely, and actual voters are uncomfortable with it but don't want it completely outlawed. Among single-issue turnout voters, swing voters, campaign volunteers, donors, and organizers, large majorities want abortion bans to be extended and made more punitive. Among Republican strategists, large majorities want drama about abortion to peak during fund-raising season, early in the campaigns, so that their activists will be energized, and they want progress toward banning abortion to be small but perceptible. Abortion is a winning issue for Republicans, and will be until SCOTUS finally hands down the ruling that the Constitution forbids any state from having a homicide statute that fails to include zygoticide as first-degree murder.

  6. [6] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    NATO's process for allowing additional countries to join was decided when the original treaty was ratified by its original members. Biden had nothing to do with it. Letting Russia change it would be a bad idea. Just opening negotiations to let Russia change it would also be a bad idea.

    No one is suggesting anything like that. Have I said anything remotely resembling that? No, I have not.

    You're missing my point, completely! I'm just not sure if you're missing it on purpose. :)

  7. [7] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:



  8. [8] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I have two words for you, Dan ... Alexey Welsh. Heh.

  9. [9] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Human life begins at conception, and proceeds along an unbroken continuum until it ends at death. Attempting to arbitrarily define points along that continuum, early or late, as somehow constituting "degrees" of humanity, or perhaps I should say 'sub-humanity', is simply an exercise in irrationality/stupidity.

    That fact however, does not preclude the legitimacy of the need to terminate some human life under certain conditions.

    Go ahead and legitimize the desirability of ending certain human life under certain conditions, just don't try to rationalize it on the basis of it being somehow "subhuman".

  10. [10] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    Elizabeth your victim blaming isn’t playing very well in this space because telling Putin to help himself to Ukraine because the West doesn’t care is counterintuitive — and that’s putting it mildly.

    Besides ducking my would you defend Ontario question you also haven’t offered links to whomever has convinced you to parrot the Russians. Was the guy’s name William Bradley? I googled him and didn’t find any of the William Bradleys that turned up was remotely close to being a geo strategist or even a politics pundit. So how about a couple of links?

    Answer, please.

  11. [11] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    This is merely YOUR opinion. In fact, in the words of the poet Jesus ain’t say that! If it was an issue he’d have said something about it, amirite?

    Jesus was raised in Judaism and According to Jewish law the fetus is regarded as a part of the mother's body and not as a separate being until it begins to egress from the womb during parturition, and attains the status of 'nefesh,' which means soul in Hebrew.

    And the third Abrahamic religion?

    In the Islamic tradition, this point is generally recognized as 120 days after conception, at which time, according to the Hadith, the process of “ensoulment” occurs; that is, the time in which the soul (r??) enters the fetus post-conception.

    What about Thou shall not kill? That should be understood as Thou shall not murder. Otherwise going to war or supporting capital punishment and (a Republican favorite) defending oneself with deadly force as need would ALL be forbidden.

    So we don’t even have any mention of abortion in any of the three religions. 0-for-3.

    Freedom of religion has to include freedom from other people’s religion! But you Christofacists want to impose their minority view on everyone else and We the People are having none of it.

  12. [12] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    when did stucki say anything about jesus?

  13. [13] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    Dunno. But it’s not an unreasonable assumption.

  14. [14] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Actually, it's a helluvan unreasonable assumption.

    I'm 100% agnostic, and I did not intend to invoke nor involve "Jewish law, Judaism, Jesus, Islamic tradition", Christianity nor any of the other varieties of voodoo normally referred to as religion.

  15. [15] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    So why are you in favor of imposing your anti-freedom opinions on your fellow Americans? You are objectively in the Christofacist camp.

  16. [16] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Even if you’re agnostic or athiest (a not unreasonable stance given how badly the respective powers that be have mangled their various dogmas) do you think that your opinions should be imposed on those who disagree with you?

  17. [17] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:


    If you aren’t using religion to define when life begins, what are you basing your claim that “life begins at conception” on, exactly? Not science. (Unless you are simply saying that the “life process” begins with conception and ends in death, which is true, but doesn’t change the fact that the splitting cells which occur immediately after conception still do not constitute what is defined as being a “life” by science or medicine.

  18. [18] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Thanks LISTEN,

    You rephrased my point better than did I.

  19. [19] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    OK folks, I'm simply attempting to present the physical facts of the chemistry of human life and human existence, without attempting to include (and in fact pretty much totally rejecting)the kind of metaphysical abstract philosophical spiritual etc. morality that usually gets infused into the discussion.

  20. [20] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    And BTW, you may be able to define the first collection of cells proceeding from conception as being some how defined as not being a 'life', but you can't say it's not a human being.

  21. [21] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Oh yes I (we) can. One HAS to be born FIRST (give or take, say, Caesarean section — a relatively recent technological capacity) to be alive/to be a “life.”

  22. [22] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    That is, this “unborn child” nomenclature is bleeping nonsense, period.

  23. [23] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    For the record, this “baby killer” believes that ESPECIALLY GIVEN your kind of philosophical nonsense and the concomitant history of you Forced-Birthers/Rapist’s Bill of Rights crowd that there should be no restrictions whatsoever on abortion. It’s like those Oklahoma “Anti-Shar’ia” laws that are a “solution” to an imaginary “problem.”

  24. [24] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:


    OK, if you can define a developing human being (in the womb) as being 'sub-human' because it's not fully 'developed', how would you define those of us at the opposite end of the continuum, who have begun to 'un-develop' (deteriorate).

    BTW I'm the grandpa of an aborted trisomic baby. I've NEVER been a "Forced Birther".

  25. [25] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:


    Are frozen embryos human beings with the same human rights as you and me?
    By your standards it sounds like they are, yet we do not require the parents attempt to birth every fertilized embryo collected (at least not yet). Are we going to charge couples that do not attempt to bring these human beings to term with their murders if they don’t bring them to term? If the parents are killed and the embryos are still being kept frozen by the clinic, will those who run the clinic be required to find hosts for these human beings and if they do not, will they be responsible for murdering the unwanted human beings?

    Reproduction in most mammals is very similar to a parasitic infection. I know that sounds horrible to say because no one wants to think of their child as being similar to a parasite… but it doesn’t mean that it is not true. Until a baby takes that first breath of air outside of the womb, it is technically not alive. If that breath never comes, the child is considered to be stillborn. The problem with most abortion laws post Roe is that a fetus that is clearly dead in the womb cannot be removed even if it endangers the woman’s health. How ridiculous is that?!?! Just like with Republicans trying to prevent trans children from receiving any medically approved treatments, governments restricting medically necessary treatments based on non-expert data and public opinion is the stupidest thing we allow to happen in this country. If medical associations have cleared treatments as safe and beneficial to a patient’s well-being, then politicians should just shut the fukk up and work on real issues that are effecting our nation! These forced birther twitches do not give a crap about the unborn children.

  26. [26] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    CRs [24]

    When will “Pro-Lifers” make taking a person off life support illegal because you are ending a life??? If a few fertilized cells is a human being that every effort to keep them alive is required, how can they not make it illegal to not keep a person alive through any means possible as well? You don’t give a crap about those human beings’ quality of life, why should anyone take your quality of life into consideration at all? You just should be happy to be kept alive even if your body is begging to die!

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