Downballot, Some Life-Issue News

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Downballot, Some Life-Issue News

I arrive at DTG Blog sheep­ishly, behind sched­ule, hav­ing been entirely too wrapped up in my own state’s elec­tion (424 leg­isla­tive seats, for starters). As I look at results past the state line, I see that vot­ers in West Vir­ginia and Alabama passed pro-​life bal­lot mea­sures that are essen­tial but shouldn’t have been needed. The vot­ers clar­i­fied in for­mal terms that their state con­sti­tu­tions do not pro­tect, cre­ate, or require a right to abortion.

There­fore, if Roe v. Wade is ever over­turned in a man­ner that returns abor­tion reg­u­la­tion to the states, abor­tion will not already be “baked into” the West Vir­ginia and Alabama con­sti­tu­tions, so to speak. Among other impli­ca­tions, noth­ing in those state con­sti­tu­tions will require tax­pay­ers to fund abor­tions via Medicaid.

Abor­tion advo­cates are not happy about these bal­lot mea­sures, any more than they were happy about a sim­i­lar one passed by Ten­nessee vot­ers in 2014. The U.S. Supreme Court refused last month to hear a chal­lenge to the Ten­nessee mea­sure. That’s good news, but it indi­cates the lengths to which abor­tion sup­port­ers will go to pre­vent states from adopt­ing abor­tion neu­tral­ity in their constitutions.

Also on Tues­day, New Hamp­shire (my home state) passed Ques­tion 2, a con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment assert­ing the right to infor­ma­tional pri­vacy. Cor­ner­stone Action, a pol­icy advo­cacy group to which I’m a con­sul­tant, opposed Ques­tion 2 out of a con­cern that it might be mis­used to invent a right to abor­tion under the state con­sti­tu­tion. The spon­sors of the mea­sure were at pains to assure us that it wouldn’t affect abor­tion at all one way or another. Ques­tion 2 passed eas­ily. Time will tell if it will lead to the need for a bal­lot mea­sure like the ones passed this week in Alabama and West Virginia.

From CNN:

Alabama’s Amend­ment 2, which passed with 61% of votes, amends the state’s Con­sti­tu­tion “to declare and oth­er­wise affirm that it is the pub­lic pol­icy of the state to rec­og­nize and sup­port the sanc­tity of unborn life and the rights of unborn chil­dren … and to pro­vide that the con­sti­tu­tion of this state does not pro­tect the right to abor­tion or require the fund­ing of abortion.”
West Virginia’s Amend­ment 1, which passed more nar­rowly with 52% of votes, states that “Noth­ing in this Con­sti­tu­tion secures or pro­tects a right to abor­tion or requires the fund­ing of abortion.”
Ore­go­ni­ans shot down Mea­sure 106, which would have pro­hib­ited the use of pub­lic funds to pay for abor­tions except in cases in which there’s a fed­eral require­ment or when the pro­ce­dure is deemed “med­ically nec­es­sary.” Only 37% of vot­ers voted for the mea­sure, while 63% came out in opposition.

From Michael J. New in National Review, “A Wild and Won­der­ful Pro-​Life Win in West Vir­ginia”:

This is an impor­tant vic­tory. The pas­sage of Amend­ment 1 will pre­vent tax­payer fund­ing of abor­tion for elec­tive abor­tions in West Vir­ginia. Cur­rently, the Hyde amend­ment only allows for fed­eral fund­ing of abor­tion in very lim­ited cir­cum­stances. How­ever, 17 states, includ­ing West Vir­ginia, use state tax­payer dol­lars pay for elec­tive abor­tions for women on Med­ic­aid. In West Vir­ginia, like nearly every other state, this pol­icy did not come about through the demo­c­ra­tic process. In 1993, in Women’s Health Cen­ter of West Vir­ginia, et al. v. Panepinto, et al. the state supreme court ruled that the state was required to pay for elec­tive abor­tions for women on Med­ic­aid. The pas­sage of Amend­ment 1 will elim­i­nate the Panepinto fund­ing requirement.

Ellen Kolb is a New Hampshire-​based writer who blogs about the life issues at Leaven for the Loaf.

Please sup­port inde­pen­dent jour­nal­ism by hit­ting DaTip­Jar. Thank you!

I arrive at DTG Blog sheepishly, behind schedule, having been entirely too wrapped up in my own state’s election (424 legislative seats, for starters). As I look at results past the state line, I see that voters in West Virginia and Alabama passed pro-life ballot measures that are essential but shouldn’t have been needed. The voters clarified in formal terms that their state constitutions do not protect, create, or require a right to abortion.

Therefore, if Roe v. Wade is ever overturned in a manner that returns abortion regulation to the states, abortion will not already be “baked into” the West Virginia and Alabama constitutions, so to speak. Among other implications, nothing in those state constitutions will require taxpayers to fund abortions via Medicaid.

Abortion advocates are not happy about these ballot measures, any more than they were happy about a similar one passed by Tennessee voters in 2014. The U.S. Supreme Court refused last month to hear a challenge to the Tennessee measure. That’s good news, but it indicates the lengths to which abortion supporters will go to prevent states from adopting abortion neutrality in their constitutions.

Also on Tuesday, New Hampshire (my home state) passed Question 2, a constitutional amendment asserting the right to informational privacy. Cornerstone Action, a policy advocacy group to which I’m a consultant, opposed Question 2 out of a concern that it might be misused to invent a right to abortion under the state constitution. The sponsors of the measure were at pains to assure us that it wouldn’t affect abortion at all one way or another. Question 2 passed easily. Time will tell if it will lead to the need for a ballot measure like the ones passed this week in Alabama and West Virginia.

From CNN: 

Alabama’s Amendment 2, which passed with 61% of votes, amends the state’s Constitution “to declare and otherwise affirm that it is the public policy of the state to recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children … and to provide that the constitution of this state does not protect the right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.”
West Virginia’s Amendment 1, which passed more narrowly with 52% of votes, states that “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of abortion.”
Oregonians shot down Measure 106, which would have prohibited the use of public funds to pay for abortions except in cases in which there’s a federal requirement or when the procedure is deemed “medically necessary.” Only 37% of voters voted for the measure, while 63% came out in opposition.

From Michael J. New in National Review, “A Wild and Wonderful Pro-Life Win in West Virginia”:

This is an important victory. The passage of Amendment 1 will prevent taxpayer funding of abortion for elective abortions in West Virginia. Currently, the Hyde amendment only allows for federal funding of abortion in very limited circumstances. However, 17 states, including West Virginia, use state taxpayer dollars pay for elective abortions for women on Medicaid. In West Virginia, like nearly every other state, this policy did not come about through the democratic process. In 1993, in Women’s Health Center of West Virginia, et al. v. Panepinto, et al. the state supreme court ruled that the state was required to pay for elective abortions for women on Medicaid. The passage of Amendment 1 will eliminate the Panepinto funding requirement.

Ellen Kolb is a New Hampshire-based writer who blogs about the life issues at Leaven for the Loaf

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