Where the Midterms Mattered Most for Abortion Access

American Age Official

This article will be updated to include final results and other developments.

The first election to put abortion rights to the test after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade appears unlikely to reshape the map of abortion access — at least not overnight. Voters in much of the country reinforced the status quo, choosing candidates who are likely to either maintain existing protections or restrictions in their states, or deepen them.

States that protect abortion access

Mixed results

New protections

Existing protections

Results pending

States that restrict abortion access

Results pending

New restrictions likely

Mixed results

Existing restrictions

Results pending in races affecting abortion









Several of the most competitive state-level races with consequences for abortion were too close to call on Wednesday. Republican power did expand in some states, opening the door to further bans on the procedure in the coming months. But elsewhere, Republicans fell short in key contests for control of state governments that would have allowed them to easily advance restrictions.

And voters in several states revealed broad support for abortion rights, with California, Michigan and Vermont enshrining lasting protections in their state Constitutions and those in Kentucky rejecting an anti-abortion measure.

In many places, the outcome of down-ballot races may prove as consequential for abortion access as those for governor or legislative seats. Shifts in power on state supreme courts are important to watch, as these courts can rule on challenges to new or existing abortion laws. Newly elected attorneys general will also have some say in their enforcement.

States that added abortion protections in the midterms

New protections

Tap a state for more details

Democrats had hoped that Roe’s overturn would drive voters who support abortion rights to the polls in November, and their hopes were buoyed after Kansans defeated a proposed constitutional amendment to restrict abortion in August.

New constitutional protections approved by voters in three more states on Tuesday will not only bolster local and regional access to abortion, but also may encourage other states to follow suit.


Abortion is already legal until viability.

Ballot measure affirming a right to abortion passed

The state already has strong protections in place, and voters approved an amendment to the State Constitution to protect reproductive rights, including the right to abortion and contraceptives. The new amendment offers a safeguard that can be undone only by another voter referendum.


A near-total ban is blocked in court.

Ballot measure affirming a right to abortion passed

Democratic governor re-elected

New Democratic majority in the State Senate

Democratic attorney general re-elected

A winning ballot measure will enshrine the right to abortion in Michigan and overturn an existing ban from 1931 that has already been blocked in court.

Michigan Democrats rode support for abortion rights to flip the State Senate and possibly the House of Representatives, giving them control of the state government for the first time in 40 years. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel, both Democrats who pledged to protect abortion rights, won re-election.


Abortion is already legal with no gestational limit.

Ballot measure affirming a right to abortion passed

A large majority of voters backed a proposal to amend the State Constitution to guarantee a right to personal reproductive autonomy. State lawmakers had first passed legislation that recognized abortion as a fundamental right in 2019 to begin the multiyear amendment process.

States that may add abortion restrictions after the midterms

New restrictions likely

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In some states that already limit abortion access, races up and down the ballot removed Democratic lawmakers who stood in the way of restrictions. With fewer obstacles, Republican majorities are expected to pass new or more restrictive bans in the months to come.

“We’re going to see states that have already banned abortion try to adopt other restrictions, too,” said Elizabeth Nash, state policy analyst for the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights. She pointed to possibilities including harsher criminal penalties for providers and allowing attorneys general to prosecute local abortion cases.


15-week ban in effect

Republican supermajority secured in state legislature

Republican governor re-elected

Republicans secured supermajorities in both chambers of the Florida Legislature, putting them on a path to further restrict abortion. And they will likely have the support of Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican who won re-election in a landslide and has said previously that he intends to “expand pro-life protections.” Florida already bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, but legislators may push for a six-week or total ban.


A six-week ban is blocked in court.

Conservative majority secured on State Supreme Court

Republican governor re-elected

Republicans won all three seats up for election on the Ohio Supreme Court, and Gov. Mike DeWine will appoint a new judge to a vacant seat, securing a stronger conservative majority. A ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, which Mr. DeWine signed in 2019, is currently blocked by a lower court in Ohio but is expected to reach the state’s Supreme Court next year.

The court has not previously ruled on abortion rights, but the new makeup “could have a significant impact on cases related to abortion,” said Douglas Keith, the counsel for democracy programs at the Brennan Center for Justice.

Where abortion policy remains uncertain after the midterms

Mixed results

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Although voters in many states affirmed the status quo on abortion, in a few places the results of the midterms were more mixed. One unexpected outcome was voters’ rejection of an anti-abortion ballot measure in Kentucky, a state that bans nearly all abortions. And split partisan control of state governments in a few other states may mean gridlock on new abortion laws for the time being.


Abortion is already legal until 22 weeks.

Democratic governor re-elected

Republican attorney general elected

The Democratic incumbent, Laura Kelly, held onto the governor’s office, though Republicans retained a veto-proof majority in the Legislature and could try to enact restrictions on abortion in next year’s legislative session. The newly elected Republican attorney general, Kris Kobach, has said he wants to make Kansas the most anti-abortion state in the country.

In August, Kansans decisively rejected an amendment that would have removed protections for abortion rights from the State Constitution, which the state’s supreme court recognized in 2019.


A near-total ban is already in effect.

Ballot measure denying any right to abortion rejected

Kentucky already bans nearly all abortions, but the midterms signaled some support for abortion rights: A majority of voters opposed a ballot measure to amend the State Constitution to say there is no right to abortion. That rejection will not overturn the existing ban, but the vote could affect the State Supreme Court’s decision in a lawsuit challenging the ban that begins next week.

Republicans in the State Legislature maintained their veto-proof majority over the Democratic governor, Andy Beshear, who has denounced the ban. But two candidates for the State Supreme Court who were backed by anti-abortion groups did not win their races.

North Carolina

A 20-week ban is already in effect.

Conservative majority secured on State Supreme Court

Republicans won a new majority on the State Supreme Court, flipping two seats and shifting the balance of power in favor of conservatives. The court has not ruled on abortion restrictions in the past, but the new conservative majority may be more likely to reject any challenges to future bans.

Enacting an abortion ban in North Carolina will not be possible until at least 2025, however, when Gov. Roy Cooper’s term expires. Mr. Cooper, a Democrat, opposes abortion restrictions, and Republicans failed to secure a supermajority in the Legislature that would have allowed them to override his veto.

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