Democrat wins Alabama swing seat by 25% amid controversy over abortion and IVF

A Democratic candidate won a swing seat in the Alabama state house by a whopping 25% margin in a race dominated by the controversy over Republican efforts to ban abortion and in-vitro fertilization.

Marilyn Lands, who campaigned on a strongly pro-choice platform, won a special election to fill the suburban Huntsville 10th District, turning around a race that she lost by about 7% in 2022.

The surprising win came amid widespread concern even in deep-red Alabama about the state’s anti-abortion push, which led the state’s Supreme Court to recently issue a ruling that effectively banned IVF in the state.

The election result won’t shift the partisan balance in ruby-red Alabama, where Republicans still hold supermajorities in both state houses as well as every statewide elected office. Former President Donald Trump romped over President Biden by a 25% margin across the state.

But the result suggests that Democrats are likely to continue amplifying concern over threats to reproductive rights, including abortion medication, IVF, and even contraception, to big gains among suburban women, moderate and independent voters.

Pro-choice candidates and Democrats have enjoyed a big edge over Republican abortion opponents for two years now since the U.S. Supreme Court unexpectedly overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

The anti-abortion ruling opened the door for most Republican-run states to ban nearly all abortions, sparking outrage among the more than 60% of Americans who believe abortion should mostly be legal.

Pro-choice referendums swept to victories in even red states like Kansas and Ohio, while many political pundits credit the issue with helping Democrats avert a much-hyped red wave in the 2022 midterms.

In Alabama, pro-life voters passed a state constitutional amendment declaring that life starts at conception.

The measure was intended to permanently ban all abortions in the state. But it also cast a long shadow over IVF, which involves fertilizing many of a woman’s eggs and discarding most of them.

Citing the plain language of the constitutional amendment, the all-Republican Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen fertilized eggs are people, a ruling that could open up parents, doctors and other medical officials to prosecution for supposedly killing them.

Alabama state lawmakers quickly moved to pass a new law to explicitly permit IVF. But some anti-abortion zealots object to the law and support the idea that a fertilized egg is a human life, suggesting that they may file a new lawsuit to block IVF in the state.

The abortion rights issue is a concern for Trump and his 2024 Republican campaign.

Trump often brags about engineering the repeal of Roe v. Wade because he appointed three conservative judges to the U.S. Supreme Court.

He recently suggested he will back a national ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. But he privately acknowledges that the issue is a political “loser.”

Coincidentally, the Alabama vote came on the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments over a Christian conservative effort to ban mifepristone, a commonly used abortion medication.

The justices appeared to be leaning toward avoiding a ruling on the ban itself by invoking a legal technicality of whether the doctors who sued were personally affected by the use of mifepristone.