Pundits seeking signals about how abortion plays as a political issue will have to look somewhere other than last month’s elections for clear direction While concerns of the pocketbook seemed foremost in many voters’ minds, abortion was a key campaign issue in several races (CT, Oct. 22, 1990. p. 44). Yet in the nation’s first major elections since the Supreme Court’s Webster decision, both sides of the debate won some and lost some.

In the Kansas governor’s race, prolife challenger Joan Finney (D) beat incumbent, prochoice Republican Mike Hayden. The National Organization for Women (NOW) and the Fund for a Feminist Majority supported Hayden in the race. In Ohio, prolife candidate George Voinovich (R) defeated Anthony Celebrezze (D), who last year flip-flopped on the issue and made abortion rights a key plank in his platform. In Michigan, prolife challenger John Engler (R) edged out incumbent James Blanchard (D). Blanchard had angered prolife forces by vetoing dozens of abortion restrictions. In Pennsylvania, prolife Democrat Bob Casey was easily re-elected.

Prochoice winners included Florida’s Lawton Chiles (D), who beat incumbent Bob Martinez (R). Prochoicers targeted Martinez for defeat after he called a special legislative session on abortion following the Webster decision. In Texas, prochoice Ann Richards (D) narrowly defeated Clayton Williams (R). Minnesota’s tempetuous race ended with prolife incumbent Rudy Perpich being defeated by a prochoice Republican, Arne Carlson, who had been in the race for only nine days. Carlson, who had lost the Republican primary, entered after prolife candidate Jon Grunseth pulled out of the race due to scandalous revelations about his personal life.

Congressional Races

Prolifers claim they ...

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