The first news to flash across my TV screen last night was about the referendum in Ohio. Voters resoundingly repealed legislation intended to derail the collective bargaining rights of public employee unions. The rights of unions and state workers were vindicated in a landslide. Not only that, the vote sent a message to other states that have done, or are contemplating, similar moves. Hopefully, the message was heard at the national level as well.
Then, the voters in Maine took a decisive step against Republican legislatures that are trying to restrict voting rights. They restored same-day voter registration that had been eliminated by their state legislature.
Next, the president of Arizona's Senate, who was the author of Arizona's hardline immigration law, Rep. Russell Pearce, lost a recall election 53 percent to 45 percent. It's being seen as a bellwether against "extreme" politics.
Later, results came in from Mississippi, which voted down the so-called "Personhood Amendment" to the state constitution.
Now, I realize that the readers of NCR are divided on issues that touch abortion, but this proposition was so unique, and so hardline, that even the Catholic bishops did not support it!
It would have defined a fertilized egg as a legal person. Now, some people might believe that philosophically or theologically, but enacting it into law is another matter. If approved, it would not only have outlawed all abortions (even in cases of rape, incest and saving the life of the mother), it would have outlawed many forms of birth control that prevent implantation as well as the morning-after pill. It would probably have stopped all attempts at in vitro fertilization and stifled the ability of doctors to treat pregnant patients.
It would also have meant that every natural miscarriage would be subject to possible criminal investigation and even prosecution as a potential murder case. Even for some longtime anti-abortion groups (as well as the bishops), this was a bridge too far. And the voters got that message: This would have resulted in gross injustices toward women.
There is hope in these results -- hope that justice is still alive in the psyche of the American voter.