The abortion rights battle will be key in several states this November, where voters will decide on legislation that may affect access to the procedures.

Abortion rights advocates are looking, in particular, at the votes in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, which are being seen as indicators of where the country stands on abortion heading into the 2024 elections, according to The Hill.

Democrats are hoping to rally anger from voters concerning the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, while Ohio will take on the issue directly with a ballot measure that protects abortion rights in the state up to the point of viability, about halfway through a pregnancy. 

“Abortion is going to continue to be a galvanizing reason for Ohio voters and voters in states across the country to turn out to vote,” commented Lauren Blauvelt, the vice president of government affairs and public advocacy for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio. “It’s incredibly important, and without the federal protection of Roe v. Wade, it is up to individual voters to make this decision for themselves.”

Advocates in the state successfully defeated a measure in August to raise the threshold to amend the Ohio Constitution, which would have made it more difficult to approve abortion protections. 

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a Republican, an abortion opponent, advocated for the failed measure. The state elections board, led by LaRose, has approved new language summarizing the abortion amendment that will appear on the November ballot. 

The changes include referring to an “unborn child” rather than “fetus” and “pregnant woman” instead of “pregnant patient,” and Blauvelt said the changes demonstrate what “anti-abortion politicians are willing to do” to try to stop the amendment.

Ohio abortion rights supporters have filed a lawsuit to the state Supreme Court to challenge the changes, but LaRose’s office said the board was following its constitutional requirement to adopt a summary of the measure, and insisted the language changes meet that requirement. 

Meanwhile, races in Pennsylvania and Virginia are being seen as proxy elections for the fight over abortion rights. 

Virginia’s Gov. Glenn Youngkin has not been able the bring the 15-week abortion ban he is seeking, while Democrats control the state’s Senate and Republicans hold the state House majorities. 

The Republican governor, however, got a political boost after candidates he endorsed won their primary elections in June and sources familiar with the governor’s plans say that passing the bill, which has exceptions for rape, incest, and protecting the mother’s life, is his priority if Republicans control the state House and Senate. 

In Pennsylvania, voters will choose a replacement to fill a set on the state Supreme Court after the death last year of former Chief Justice Max Baer. 

Daniel McCaffery, a Democrat, is facing Republican Carolyn Carluccio. McCaffery’s election will expand the Democrats’ current 4-2 majority, while the GOP hopes to close the gap with Carluccio.

However, strategists in Pennsylvania said the election is not critical to abortion rights, as the Pennsylvania Legislature is split between the parties. Further, Gov. Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, has vowed to protect access to abortion access. 

The issue will play some role in the race, as Democrats hope to capitalize on the success they had in last year’s midterm elections focusing on abortion access. 

The conservative-leaning states of Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi are also holding gubernatorial races in November, but in all three states, the GOP-led legislature has already enforced strict abortion legislation. 

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania Republican strategist Josh Novotney said he does not expect abortion to play as large a role in elections this year as it did last, when state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who opposes abortion without exception, was the GOP nominee for governor. 

Sandy Fitzgerald

Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics. 

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