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Midterm GOP victories could bring new abortion restrictions in six states

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(NEW YORK) — GOP victories in the midterm elections could lead to more abortion restrictions in a handful of states.

The races range from gubernatorial seats to ballot measures, to eking out a veto-proof majority in the statehouse. In many states, it’s not just one race that will define the abortion rights outlook but a few different races coming together to form the new landscape for constituents.

Here’s are the six states where abortion laws could flip.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania might be the most straightforward example of how the gubernatorial race could flip a state’s abortion access on its head. If Democrat Josh Shapiro wins, abortion will stay accessible in Pennsylvania because he’s expected to veto any attempts at restrictions. If Republican Doug Mastriano wins, it would be a green light for the Republican-led state legislature to pass laws either severely restricting or outright banning abortion, with a nearly-guaranteed signoff from the governor’s office.

Kansas

Yes, Kansas passed a ballot initiative that made it clear the voters there support abortion rights in the state. But it didn’t enshrine protection for abortion — it only rejected the chance to chip away at it.

So all eyes are on the governor’s race, where a defeat of Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly would mean that the state legislature could pass restrictions and see them signed off by Republican challenger Derek Schmidt. But almost more importantly, a bunch of seats on the Kansas Supreme Court, which has been sympathetic to protecting abortion rights, are up for replacement. And new judges are chosen by the governor, which means Kansas could face a more conservative court that is far more open to allowing new abortion restrictions to stand.

Michigan

The governor’s race will actually have less influence over abortion rights in the state than a ballot measure that would enshrine abortion rights no matter who has political control.

If that ballot measure passes, it would keep abortion legal in the state and protect against future bans. But if the measure fails and Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is defeated by challenger Tudor Dixon, a Republican, the Republican-led statehouse could bring Dixon abortion restrictions or bans and see them quickly enacted. Two other races matter, though: the attorney general and the Michigan supreme court races, which Republicans would need to win to get rid of the Democrats currently protecting abortion rights from those perches.

North Carolina

It’s all about the statehouse in North Carolina. Republicans are very close to getting enough seats to override Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto power — and right now that’s all that’s standing in the way of state Republicans enacting a law that further restricts abortion in the state, where abortion is currently legal until 20 weeks. Republicans need to pick up two seats in the state Senate and three in the state House to have a veto-proof majority.

Arizona

Abortion is legal until 15 weeks of pregnancy in Arizona. If Republican Kari Lake wins the gubernatorial race, abortion could be restricted even further. If Democrat Katie Hobbs is elected, it will remain restricted at 15 weeks. (Hobbs wouldn’t have the votes in the statehouse to repeal that law, since it’s already in place). Of course, there’s still a near-total ban looming over the state in the form of a pre-Roe law that’s locked up in legal limbo.

Wisconsin

Even though Democrats control the governorship in Wisconsin, abortion is currently banned in the state by way of complete legal limbo that forced clinics to give up because of the confusion. But if incumbent Democrats Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul are defeated by Republicans in this election, abortion could be banned more concretely — regardless of the outcome of the current lawsuit — by the state legislature armed with a new Republican governor.

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