A New Pro-Choice Congress In 2009

Updated 3:02pm PST - Americans have voted: our new U.S. Congress will be pro-reproductive health access, pro-prevention and pro-education. Here's a run-down of the winners and losers of key Senate and House races.

Updated as of 3:02pm PST, November 5, 2008

Last night brought a move towards a more pro-prevention, pro-education, pro-woman United States Congress. As of the update, we now have 26 new, pro-choice Congress members. I will update this list as results come in but below you’ll find results of some key races. After eight years of women’s health and lives being used as political footballs, where ideology has trumped sound science at the expense of people’s lives, and after a presidential campaign in which one of the candidates declared prioritizing women’s health an "extremist" position, Americans are declaring they want change. 

“Women and families are the real winners in this election,” Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood said. “The number of new pro-choice and pro-women’s health members of Congress represents a major step toward getting our country back on track and ensuring that our lawmakers have the right priorities, like support for women’s health care.”

Rewire has been tracking key congressional races where sexual and reproductive health and rights has been an issue over the last several months. Our hope is that, with pro-choice President-elect Obama, when the newly pro-choice 111th Congress convenes for the legislative session, we will see passage of those policies that have been waiting for their time to shine: ensure expanded access to publicly funded contraception, increase global family planning funding, repeal the multitude of barriers to safe abortion in the United States, and examine racial disparities in reproductive healthcare and a commitment to remedying those disparities.  But, also, a pro-choice, pro-prevention, pro-education majority in Congress has the opportunity to enact pro-active legislation that directly addresses the dismal maternal mortality rates in this country, the skyrocketing numbers of unintended pregnancies among teens, greater access to emergency contraception for younger women under 16 years old, coverage of contraception under all health insurance plans, increased research on the federal level of women’s health issues, and more.

Here are the outcomes for those races we can celebrate and those winners we’ll need to tolerate for a few more years (in alphabetical order). I’ve indicated those races in which we do not have results yet:

Senate Races

Ted Stevens (R) vs. Mark Begich (D)
Senator Stevens, having been convicted of corruption during his campaign, is challenged by pro-choice Senator Mark Begich.*The results of this race are not in yet. Absentee ballots are being counted.

Congressman Mark Udall (D) is pro-choice. He has won the seat of Republican Wayne Allard beating out conservative Republican Bob Schaffer. Schaffer supported Colorado’s "Personhood Amendment", an anti-choice ballot initiative which was also defeated this evening. 

Republican John Kennedy is anti-choice and has been defeated by Democrat Mary Landrieu who has held this seat for two terms and was elected previously with the support of Emily’s List but whose record on reproductive health issues is mixed.

Representative Tom Allen (D) has an extensive pro-choice record. He lost the Senatorial seat to Republican Senator Susan Collins who has a mixed record on choice issues.

In a highly publicized race, pro-choice Democrat Al Franken is neck and neck with Republican challenger Senator Norm Coleman. As of 11:10pm PST, with 72% of the votes counted, each contender holds 42% of the vote. 12:45pm PST on Wednesday, November 5th, a recount is in process. 

New Hampshire
Republican Senator John Sununu is anti-choice and holds this seat currently but has been defeated by former Governor Jeanne Shaheen. Shaheen is solidly pro-choice.

New Mexico
Senator Pete Dominici, Republican, is retiring and the seat goes to Representative Tom Udall. Udall is a Democrat who is pro-choice. His challenger was anti-choice Republican Rep. Steve Pearce.

North Carolina
In a highly contentious race, framed mostly by Senator Elizabeth Dole’s attacks on Kay Hagan as a "Godless American", Senator Kay Hagan has won. Despite the unwarranted and unsubstantiated attacks, incumbent Senator Dole lost to Senator Hagan who is solidly pro-choice.

Democrat Mark Warner has won this race and is the new Senator. Republican Senator John Warner’s seat was up for grabs this election cycle. Competing for the office was Republican Jim Gilmore and Democrat Mark Warner – both former governors of the state. Mark Warner is pro-choice; Gilmore is anti-choice.

House Races

Congressional District 1
Sydney Hay (R) – anti-choice
Ann Kirkpatrick (D) – pro-choice. Kirkpatrick is the winner of this race. 

Congressional District 4
Gabrielle Giffords (D) – Incumbent/pro-choice. Giffords is the winner of this race. Tim Bee (R) – anti-choice

Congressional District 4
Winner is pro-choice Democrat Betsy Markey. Incumbent Republican Rep. Marilyn Musgrave has lost to Markey, who is pro-choice. Musgrave is strongly anti-choice.

Congressional District 13
Vern Buchanan (R) – anti-choice, Incumbent. Buchanan is the winner of this race.
Christine Jennings (D) – pro-choice challenger

Congressional District 16
Tim Mahoney (D) – Incumbent, pro-choice
Tom Rooney (R) – anti-choice. Rooney is the winner of this race. 

Congressional District 24
Tom Feeny (R) – anti-choice
Suzanne Kosmas (D) – current state representative, pro-choice. Kosmas has won this race.

Congressional District1

Newly-elected representative Walt Minnick, Democrat, is pro-choice. 

Congressional District 11
Representative John Weller is retiring. Democrat Debbie Halvorson, who is pro-choice, has won the race, beating out anti-choice Republican, Marty Ozinga.

Congressional District 14
Republican James Oberweis, with a mixed record on reproductive health issues, has lost to Democrat Bill Foster, who is pro-choice. Foster is the winner of this race. 

Congressional District 2
Democrat Nancy Boyda has lost her seat to Republican Lynn Jenkins. This race is noteworthy for the fact that both candidates are pro-choice. Jenkins was endorsed by WISH List, a pro-choice Republican group. Boyda has received a 100% ranking from NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Congressional District 6
Democrat Kay Barnes was defeated by incumbent Republican Sam Graves. Barnes is pro-choice; Graves is anti-choice.

New York
Congressional District 20
Incumbent Democrat Kristin Gillibrand is pro-choice and easily maintained her seat against challenger Sandy Treadwell, who is republican and also pro-choice.

New Mexico

Congressional Districts 1, 2, 3

This just in from Planned Parenthood. New Mexico’s congressional delegation is now completely pro-choice. With wins by newly-elected Martin Heinrich (NM-01), Harry Teague (NM-02), and Ben Lujan (NM-03), New Mexico is solidly pro-choice.

Congressional District 03

Dina Titus, a newly-elected pro-choice Democrat, challenged incumbent Republican Joe Porter for this seat and won. 

Congressional District 15
In what has been considered a "toss-up" race, pro-choice Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy is bidding for retiring Rep. Deborah Pryce’s seat, against Republican state Senator Steve Stivers. Kilroy is pro-choice. As of 10:50pm PST on Tuesday evening, the race was too close to call. We’ll keep you updated. At 12:45pm PST on Wednesday, November 5, there are stil absentee and provisional ballots to be counted. It is predicted the results will not be known for at least ten days

Congressional District 8
Rep. Dave Reichert, incumbent, is fighting for another term against Democrat Darcy Burner who is strongly pro-choice. As of 10:50pm PST on Tuesday evening, with only 12% of the precincts reporting, Burner is ahead 53% – 47%. We’ll keep you udpated. At 12:45pm PST on Wednesday, November 5, the results will likely not be known until later this week. Reichert holds a slim lead over Burner.