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Abortion Was Just on the Ballot in California. Virginia Is Next.

1 29 17
20.09.2021

For more on the power grab for your rights, check out our special report.

California, New York, and Illinois are the rejoinder to the question “what will people do if Roe v. Wade falls?” But only California has a strange recall process that allows its sitting governors to be replaced by someone who earned a plurality of votes, no matter how small.

These arcane rules are what threatened Gov. Gavin Newsom, the first-term leader and unabashedly pro-choice politician, who is up for re-election next year. By contrast, his highest-polling opponent, conservative radio host Larry Elder, had said Roe was “one of the [Supreme Court’s] worst decisions” and described abortion as murder. (Elder also disparaged minimum wages laws and the Family and Medical Leave Act, the only form of guaranteed parental leave in the United States.)

Though some polls in July and August suggested the recall effort was close, Newsom won easily, by a margin of 2-1 with 70 percent of the votes counted. Abortion access vaulted into the national news in the final weeks of the campaign after the Supreme Court failed to block Texas’ unconstitutional six-week abortion ban. Newsom, who—along with his supporters—had campaigned heavily on reproductive rights, vaulted to a double-digit lead days before the polls closed. Anti-abortion advocates will no doubt move on to the Virginia gubernatorial race in November, where another pro-choice Democrat, Terry McAuliffe, will face off against an anti-choice conservative, Glenn Youngkin. The state could be crucial for people seeking abortions across the South.

California has few restrictions on abortion, lots of clinics, and laws requiring insurance coverage. It’s considered a repro firewall. To have lost some of those protections and that access would have been devastating for people inside and outside the state. This was not a theoretical worry, with the Supreme Court set to hear a case this fall that could overturn Roe and, in the meantime, allowing the Texas ban to take effect.

The recall could have........

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