The Reproductive Health Access Project (RHAP) launched its first-ever Get Out the Vote Campaign (GOTV) leading up to the 2014 midterms, a crucial election for reproductive rights. Our efforts began in September with the launch of our GOTV webpage which featured voter registration, information on ballot measures and national and state pro-choice voter guides. Our campaign message was simple: register. learn. vote.
National Voter Registration Day was on September 23rd and RHAP tabled in Union Square, registering over 55 voters! Our V to Shining V event on September 27th was an empowering space for celebrating reproductive rights and raising awareness through comedy, games and story sharing. Meanwhile we kept our virtual followers informed with blog posts, emails and reminders via social media. We are so grateful to all of our amazing supporters, volunteers, staff and friends who helped make our inaugural GOTV campaign possible!
It’s been one week since the Midterm Elections and there are clear signs that voters support reproductive health rights. In Colorado, voters shot down Personhood Amendment 67, which would have recognized a fetus or zygote as a person in the Colorado Criminal Code and Wrongful Death Act. Voters in North Dakota rejected the “Life Begins at Conception” Amendment, which could have effectively banned abortion in the state. These are major victories for Colorado and North Dakota women, but unfortunately may be countered by the election of more anti-choice representatives in both states during the midterms.
Amendment 1 passed in Tennessee; the State Constitution now reads that abortion is not a “fundamental right”. Elected state representatives will have “the power to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.” Amendment 1 squeaked by with a very small margin indicating that while there is a long road ahead for Tennessee, reproductive health advocates can win this battle.
In more encouraging ballot measure news, Oregon passed Measure 89 (The Equal Rights Amendment), amending the State Constitution to ensure that no state or political entity can infringe upon or deny a woman of her rights, privileges or immunity due to her sex. And Illinois voters said “yes” to a question advising state legislators to require birth control to be covered in prescription drug coverage health insurance plans.
This year marks what may become a notable shift in conservative political views on reproductive health rights. Despite having no past record of backing pro-choice legislation, many anti-abortion candidates seemed to switch their views. However, it remains to be seen whether these newly elected officials will maintain their more moderate stances moving forward.
In this election, women and reproductive justice allies made it clear that supporting reproductive rights is a priority; it is now up to us to hold our legislators accountable to their promises. Undoubtedly, the work of dedicated and passionate voters across the country led to these successes—and there’s no stopping until everyone has access to safe and legal reproductive health care!
Thank you so much for all of your support and you can be sure we’ll re-launch our GOTV efforts again in 2016!