The Lead

Reproductive rights on the ballot in November, lawmakers from Pa., other battleground states say

By: - June 22, 2023 12:33 pm

Members of Congress protested in support of abortion rights ahead of an arrest at the U.S. Capitol on July 19, 2022. Members left to right are Cori Bush of Missouri (in black shirt), Nydia Velazquez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Jackie Speier of California, Carolyn Maloney of New York, Alma Adams of North Carolina and Barbara Lee of California. Photo by Jennifer Shutt, States Newsroom.

(*This story was updated at 5:43 p.m. on Thursday, June 22, 2023, to clarify the electoral stakes in Pennsylvania)

The November general election will play a crucial role in maintaining reproductive rights in three battleground states, lawmakers from Pennsylvania, Arizona and Virginia said on a call with reporters on Thursday. 

Pennsylvania Rep. Leanne Krueger, D-Delaware, was joined on the call by Arizona state Sen. Eva Burch, Virginia House Democratic Caucus Chair Charniele Herring and Virginia Senate Caucus Chair Mamie Locke to explain the importance of voting in the upcoming elections in November.

“Since November, we have had to defend our majority [in the House] in four special elections,” Krueger said. “Every single time voters have turned out to protect our one-seat Democratic House majority and they wanted to stop the anti-choice Republicans from regaining control of the House.”

Pennsylvania, Virginia and Arizona are the three states where the general election in November will likely decide whether or not the states will be able to ensure abortion remains legal.

*While abortion remains legal in the Keystone State, voters will choose a new justice for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which is the state’s appellate court of last resort. Right now, judges elected as Democrats hold the majority. State lawmakers who could author abortion-related legislation are not on the fall ballot. 

North and South Carolina have recently enacted abortion bans, leaving Virginia as the only state in the South that has not passed an abortion ban.

On the call, which took place just two days before the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Krueger described Pennsylvania as one of the most important battleground states and claimed Republican legislators will attempt to make an amendment to the state constitution that would ban abortion if they regain control of the House after the 2024 election. 

“Later last year, we saw an overwhelming number of voters turnout to defend the right to reproductive access here in Pennsylvania, where we were able to elect a one-seat Democratic majority,” Krueger said. “Right now, I am working on House Bill 1140, which would expand and protect birth control access in Pennsylvania and a bill like this would never have a chance under a Republican majority.”

Krueger also explained how Virginia and Arizona are in similar situations as Pennsylvania as battleground states, saying Pennsylvania has been able to continuously fight abortion bans on the floor.

“Every session over and over and over again, we would face a fight,” Krueger said. “Whether it was a bill to ban abortion at a certain period of time or to mandate burial in the case of someone having a miscarriage, which we fought on the floor twice in a row. The bills are harmful to women and they create fear and they create misinformation.”

Speakers wrapped up the press conference by imploring voters to show up to the polls in November, claiming that voters have the power to guarantee reproductive rights to the people of Pennsylvania, Virginia and Arizona.

Locke also reaffirmed that abortion rights remain one of the top priorities among voters she has spoken to on the campaign trail.

Abortion rights were the key issue in Democrat Heather Boyd’s 163rd House District victory

“As we again go knocking on doors, in addition to the economy and gun violence, this remains very critical and key,” Locke said. “Reproductive rights or women’s rights to choose remains right up there at the top as one of the marquee issues.”

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Samuel O'Neal
Samuel O'Neal

Samuel O'Neal is a summer intern for the Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents Association. He is a senior journalism major at Temple University.