by Thomas Valentine
Voters in Alabama and West Virginia passed strong pro-life amendments to their state constitutions in ballot initiatives on Tuesday.
In West Virginia, where Joe Manchin masquerades as a pro-life Democrat and pulled off a narrow victory, voters passed Amendment 1 by a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent. A 1993 state Supreme Court decision effectively mandated taxpayer funding for abortion in West Virginia by striking down a law prohibiting funding of abortion through Medicaid. According to state Delegate Kayla Kessinger, over 35,000 abortions have been paid for by West Virginia taxpayers since then. That ends with Amendment 1, which adds to the state Constitution one sentence: “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of abortion.”
A ballot initiative in Alabama included similar language and went even further. Alabama voters passed it by a whopping 59 percent to 41 percent margin. The question on the ballot asked voters to approve a constitutional amendment “to declare and otherwise affirm that it is the public policy of this state to recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children, most importantly the right to life in all manners and measures appropriate and lawful; and to provide that the constitution of this state does not protect the right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.” With Anthony Kennedy gone from the Supreme Court, court-mandated abortion policy in Roe v. Wade will be reconsidered over the coming years. Alabama sets a strong example for pro-life states in the event that Roe is overturned and abortion policy returns to the states.
There was one pro-life ballot initiative that did not pass on Tuesday: Oregon’s Measure 106, which would have banned taxpayer-funded abortion in the state in response to a bill signed by the governor last year that requires public and private insurance to cover abortions with no out-of-pocket costs. The measure was defeated 64 percent to 36 percent, which came as little surprise in one of the most pro-abortion states in the country.
Though the U.S. House was lost by Republicans on Tuesday, pro-lifers should take heart in the overall results. If Martha McSally in Arizona and Rick Scott in Florida can pull out victories in their respective races, there will be a true 52-seat pro-life majority in the Senate (not counting two pro-abortion Republicans). And the Senate will be able to continue confirming constitutionalist judges who will respect the right to life and reshape the federal judiciary for years to come.
Photo credit: James McNellis via Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0