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Tuesday night brought good news for abortion rights advocates across the country, with big wins in Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky.
Virginia residents rebuffed an attempt by the state’s governor, Glenn Youngkin, to push through an abortion ban.
Youngkin, a rising star in the Republican party, swept into office in 2021 in a GOP sweep. In addition to winning the Governor’s office, Republicans also won the Lt. Governor seat, the Attorney General seat and the state house.
Last night, Republicans hoped to not only hold onto the state house, but also flip the state senate and take control away from Democrats. During his statewide campaign to do exactly that, Youngkin promised to advance a 15-week abortion ban if Republicans won.
Democrats seized on that promise and made protecting abortion rights central to their statewide campaign strategy. Despite high expectations from the state GOP, Democrats were able to successfully hold the state senate and flip the state house blue.
State senator Louise Lucas, who is the first Black and first female president pro-tempore of the Virginia Senate, helped lead messaging for Democrats.
“I am going to make sure we crush the Governor’s ban on reproductive rights. That’s number one,” Lucas said.
After securing victory, Lucas posted a meme on Twitter (X) depicting herself as Olenna Tyrell from Game of Thrones.
“Tell Glenn,” the meme reads, “I want him to know it was me.”
Kentucky and Ohio voters also fight to protect abortion rights
Virginia was not the only place where abortion rights saw significant victories. In Ohio and Kentucky, voters sent a clear message that abortion rights should be protected.
By a nearly 15% margin, Ohio voters enshrined abortion rights into the state’s constitution. The ballot measure, advanced for months by abortion rights organizers, secured the right to an abortion up to the point of fetal viability.
The overwhelming success of the ballot measure is already spurring efforts to replicate it in other states. Organizers in Arizona, Florida and elsewhere are reportedly considering adding a similar initiative to the ballot in 2024.
And just across the river in Kentucky, voters also sent a clear message to protect abortion rights.
Daniel Cameron, another rising star in the Republican party, lost his bid for governor. The incumbent governor, Democrat Andy Beshear, comfortably won a second term in the deep-red state.
Cameron, the state’s Attorney General, has fought to restrict abortion rights across Kentucky. If elected, Cameron would have likely implemented a near total ban on abortion in the state.
Beshear made abortion, education and inclusive governance central to his winning campaign.
Now, with the 2024 Presidential election officially less than a year away, Republicans are scrambling to determine a path forward.
After years of campaigning on promises to eliminate abortion rights, the party finds itself defending those efforts.