Abortion rights and pro-life groups agree on very little. But both camps believe gains made by Republicans on the state and federal level will result in more legislation aimed at restricting abortion and access to clinics.
Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards told Politico
she anticipates that Republican gains will lead to "state legislative attacks on women's health, even though the vast majority of the public wants elected officials to protect and expand access to safe and legal abortion, birth control and preventive healthcare."
According to the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute
, state legislatures nationwide between 2011 and 2013 passed more than 200 new abortion-related measures ranging from requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges [Texas] to expressly prohibiting abortions after a set point in a pregnancy.
State legislators in Ohio are wasting no time. On Nov. 20, a House committee passed a bill that would restrict most abortions if a fetal heartbeat was detectable, reports The Associated Press
"We came out of Nov. 4th with a lot of momentum," Chuck Donovan, president of the research and education arm of the Susan B. Anthony List, told Politico.
He said he expects "another uptick" in bills introduced on the state level that are aimed at further restricting abortion.
The elections, however, were not an overwhelming victory for the pro-life movement.
In November, Colorado and North Dakota voters overwhelmingly rejected personhood amendments, which assert that the rights of an individual begin at conception.
In Tennessee, voters did pass an initiative granting increased authority to the state legislature to regulate access to abortion clinics, according to U.S. News & World Report
In addition to voting against the personhood constitutional amendment by a 2-1 margin, North Dakota voters did not re-elect Margaret Sitte, the Republican state senator who sponsored the amendment.
During the campaign, incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told the National Right to Life conference that he would allow a vote on a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, except in the cases of rape or incest, The Huffington Post reported
Because Senate Republicans do not hold a 60-vote majority, Politico notes their options will be somewhat limited.
In the states, some legislative leaders have indicated the issue is not likely to dominate the upcoming legislative session.
"People probably do think there are other things we need to look at. We need to make sure we take care of all of our priorities," North Dakota state Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, a Republican, told The Associated Press
"I think we took a look at all the [abortion] issues in the last session," he added.
In North Carolina, GOP state Rep. Tim Moore, who will replace incoming U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, also has no plans to place social issues, including abortion, at the top of his legislative agenda.
"What I think I'm hearing from the caucus and from the folks out there is they want to see us govern. They want to see the state move forward, show that the changes done can be implemented in an appropriate manner. They want to know that the state can be run like a business, that we can live within our means," Moore said in an interview with WRAL news
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