North Dakota & Colorado Protect Abortion Access, Tennessee Trashes It


In the midst of Tuesday night’s many and layered disappointments, at least we have this: both North Dakota and Colorado voters decided overwhelmingly to reject “personhood” measures, nakedly obvious attempts to outlaw abortion by conferring new rights on fetuses. But at the same time, because nothing good came out of these midterms without a generous dollop of shit nestled on top of it, Tennessee voters approved Measure 1, which will change the wording of their state constitution to read: “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion.”

But let’s start with the good first, because you simply cannot start drinking this early: More than 64 percent of Colorado voters rejected a proposed personhood amendment for the third time. Amendment 67 would have added the words “unborn human beings” to the definition of crime victims in the state’s criminal code. According to Denver’s ABC 7, the proposed law had some surprising opponents, including “significant opposition among those who opposed abortion and those who identified as evangelicals or born-again Christians.”

At the same time, though, Colorado voters elected Republican Cory Gardner to the Senate, who cosponsored federal legislation that essentially would seek to overturn Roe v. Wade. The American Prospect writes, “The state of reproductive rights in Colorado is curious—the voters overwhelmingly support a woman’s right to choose, but they elect candidates who clearly do not.”

It’s not that curious, though: part of Gardner’s winning strategy was to aggressively distance himself from his previous anti-abortion stances when it became clear that they weren’t getting him any votes. See, for example, this recent ad of his:

In North Dakota, voters rejected a measure which would have changed the state constitution to guarantee “the inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development.” As Mother Jones points out, even the bill’s supporters stopped wanting to call it a personhood amendment, despite using that language without protest last year.

But then we have Tennessee, who accepted a similar change to the state’s constitution. The full language of that passage will now read:

Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion. The people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.

The measure passed with about 53 percent of the vote. The Center for Reproductive Rights is very unhappy, with president Nancy Northup issuing a statement calling it a devastating step back for the state: “We call on the Governor and state legislature to consider the devastating impact restrictions on safe, legal abortion care have had on countless women in states like Mississippi and Texas before imposing similarly underhanded and harmful restrictions in Tennessee.”

Image via AP

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