Today’s ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturns Roe v. Wade and eliminates a constitutional right that was specifically enumerated a half century ago. Radical rightwing majorities in states across the country now have unchecked and absolute discretion to ban and criminalize people’s personal healthcare — and they are doing so with abortion at this very moment.
This private decision is now banned or likely to be banned in 26 states, and the ongoing battle over choice has now entirely shifted to the states. Let us be clear — defending and expanding pro-choice majorities in state legislatures is our last line of defense.
For the first time in 50 years, the most basic right to an abortion will be on the ballot in state legislative elections across the country. Here are the states where we can still win:
Despite the fact that nine out of ten Arizonans support the idea that each of us should have the freedom to decide how and when we start or grow a family, free from political interference, the rightwing majority in the state enacted an abortion ban in March. That means that now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, the state can start enforcing a 100-year-old outright ban on abortion and take away the rights of more than 1.6 million people of reproductive age. It also means that on average, Arizonans would have to drive over 250 miles to access a safe abortion.
It won’t be easy, but breaking this majority in 2022 could prevent further criminalization of abortion in the state.
After The States Project helped flip the Maine Senate in 2018, lawmakers in Augusta expanded access to safe abortions and paid sick leave.
But the GOP is trying to win back control in 2022. Preventing the rightwing from flipping ten seats in the Maine House and five seats in the Senate will be critical to protecting abortion access for Mainers. Protecting Maine’s majorities means protecting reproductive healthcare in Maine.
Michigan has a 1931 law on the books that essentially criminalizes abortion now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned. More than 67 percent of Michiganders support repealing this law, and over 77 percent believe that abortion is a decision to be made between a patient and a doctor. Narrow rightwing majorities in both chambers in Michigan, however, are unlikely to do what the voters want and take action to protect abortion.
But winning just three seats in Michigan’s Senate or two in the House would end rightwing control of the legislature and build power for lawmakers who want to protect body autonomy in the state. And this year, with fairer maps in place and after working electorally in the state for the past two cycles, we see potential for pick-ups.
More than ten percent of the abortions that take place in Minnesota are for non-residents because, unlike its bordering states, Minnesota state law protects a constitutional right to access reproductive healthcare. Now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, people from nearby states like Iowa, North Dakota, and South Dakota will be forced to travel to Minnesota to access a safe abortion.
With a Democratic House and Democratic Governor, choice is safe in Minnesota for now, but both are up for reelection in November. In addition, we are just 3 seats away from changing the balance of power in the Senate, which would allow Minnesota to provide more protections in a post-Roe world. Gaining power in the state can protect abortion access for millions by keeping Minnesota a safe haven for abortion access.
Rightwing lawmakers in Nebraska tried to pass a trigger ban that would have effectively ended abortion protections in the state when Roe v. Wade was overturned. The bill was prevented by a slim margin of state lawmakers. To maintain the right to body autonomy in the state and protect the rights of more than 430,000 Nebraskans, we must protect this narrow margin and prevent a supermajority in the unicameral legislature in 2022.
While North Carolina does have abortion laws that are more restrictive than other states, there are still some important protections on the books that must be protected. Now, post-Roe, the stakes will be even higher as North Carolina will be a destination for women seeking abortions across the South.
Last year, the rightwing majority in North Carolina tried to restrict abortion access but Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed these bills. Critically, these vetoes were only possible because the radical rightwing does not currently hold a supermajority in the legislature. We must work to prevent a rightwing supermajority in the state legislature so that Gov. Cooper can continue to veto restrictions on abortion.
With radical majorities in both chambers, the legislature has passed several policies over the past two years meant to restrict abortion access, which Governor Tom Wolf — who is term-limited this year — has vetoed.
Since Roe v. Wade has been overturned and abortion has been banned in nearby states, the stakes will become even higher in Pennsylvania, as the number of people who may drive to the state to access a safe abortion may increase by more than 1,000 percent. Ending rightwing control in one chamber is essential to defending the current abortion protections in the state, not only for Pennsylvanians but also for residents of bordering states like West Virginia and Ohio.
With fairer maps in 2022, we believe the Pennsylvania House is within striking distance, and worth both the fight and the investment.
Want to protect the freedom to make your own decisions about your own body? The work starts in the states. Now is not the time to sit on the sidelines. Join us!