Abortion has proven to be the key topic as the Republican tide fades in the US midterm elections

In middle school, there were all those cheeky euphemisms for menstrual cycles. You could say Aunt Flo was visiting, or the crimson tide was coming in, or you were riding the crimson wave. God forbid you call your period what it was, or say anything that might make the boys realize you have a body to heal.

was thinking about that, those euphemisms and apology for the body, late into the night of Tuesday’s midterm elections.

Television pundits noted with apparent shock that the anticipated “red wave” – ​​the Republican influx expected to overthrow control of the House and Senate – did not appear to be happening. Yes, the Democrats looked set to lose the House, but the margins weren’t as dire as prognosticators had warned.

They seemed poised to hold on to governorships in Michigan, Wisconsin, Kansas and Pennsylvania, and they landed a crucial Senate seat in Pennsylvania.

Why was it so? Weren’t voters angry with inflation? The economy? Where was the red wave?

Dude, it was right in front of you. The red wave arrived with Aunt Flo on a longboard.

We’ll be dissecting the mid-term results over the next few days, breaking down the polls into demographic segments. But that’s one way of reading what happened: the midterm reviews were about abortion and about women tired of having to fight for their own bodies. They were about it resolutely and adamantly, gas prices be damned.

The mid-term results were about women and the people who care about them, showing up at the polls and saying: No. No, we don’t think reproductive issues can wait until later.

No, we don’t want to compromise our rights and our personality. No, we won’t vote for an anti-abortion candidate just because he says he can lower grocery prices.

We are the people. We demand to be treated as people. We demand that you acknowledge the bodies we care for, the bodies we use to birth the world.

Voters who spent the summer and fall in a state of post-Roe terror — watching state legislatures attempt to regulate women’s bodies they barely understood, watching Senator Lindsey Graham propose a nationwide ban on the abortion – decided to vote in their own interest.

On Tuesday, nearly 30% of voters in the United States said in network exit polls that abortion was the most important issue determining their vote; 60% said they were angry or unhappy with the Roe v Wade reversal. The same number said abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Voters in Vermont Blue chose to change their state’s constitution to protect “reproductive autonomy”; California voters approved a similar measure. These were expected.

But in Purple Michigan, voters also chose to codify abortion rights into their constitution, and they re-elected Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who ran on a platform that underscored her commitment to abortion. access to abortion.

And in dark red Kentucky, Sen. Rand Paul won reelection but a campaign bill that would have amended the constitution to make abortion illegal was defeated.

Is all this surprising? Not for me. But then I’ve spent the last six months, since the premature release of the Dobbs decision, feeling the rage emanating from women like heat from a halogen bulb.

Conservative women were shocked to find that many of their elected officials seemed happy to deny access not only to “frivolous” but also to “necessary” abortions – those in case of rape or to preserve the health of the mother, those these women could choose for themselves.

For liberal women, the rage was twofold. There was rage at Dobbs’ initial decision, and then rage at listening to pundits insist that Democrats shouldn’t just focus on abortion access.

Democrats, the thinking went, needed to focus on kitchen table issues, ones that would affect the daily lives of voters.

Do you know what else experts and politicians should do? Fully accept that reproductive problems are meat and potato problems, not desserts you put on a plate if there is room at the end of the meal.

No, it’s no surprise that voters in Kentucky wanted to retain access to abortion, the same way Kansas voters chose to retain access to abortion in their presidential ballot. State in August. (©Washington Post)

Jessica C. Bell