Abortion rights drove American expats to vote in midterms, say Democrats in Canada

OTTAWA — A representative for Democrats Abroad says concern over the right to abortion was a motivating factor for those living outside the United States to vote in the country's midterm elections Tuesday.

Dianna English, who leads the Toronto chapter of the organization, says many people she spoke to were in "disbelief" that outlawing access to abortion was put back on the table this year.

"Women here who fought for the right for women to be able to access abortion and reproductive health care the first time around ... are now finding themselves in a position, many years later, to have to do it again," she said.

"That's been a hugely motivating issue for Americans living in Canada."

The U.S. Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade, which had protected abortion as a countrywide right, has led to near-complete bans on the procedure in a dozen states.

Democrats seized on the issue. So did abortion-rights advocates. They are celebrating election day victories in the battleground state of Michigan, which voted to enshrine the right to abortion in its state constitution. California and Vermont did, too.

A victory was also celebrated in Kentucky, where voters were asked to deny the protection of abortion as a right and the measure was defeated.

In a statement, the international chair of Democrats Abroad celebrated what she called a "historic midterm performance" for the party in the face of what many expected to be a so-called red wave of Republican wins.

As the final results were still being tabulated Wednesday, Candice Kerestan said the group worked "relentlessly" all year to get out the out-of-country vote, which she said matters in tight races, such as those in Georgia and Arizona.

For Frederique Chabot, a director atAction Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, which advocates for abortion access, the outcome of the vote in Kentucky is worth celebrating because it challenges assumptions about support for banning the procedure in traditionally Republican regions.

"These victories are very important," she said.

"Especially in places like Kentucky, where it was kind of just assumed that abortion measures would not be supported, it really shows that attacks on abortion access are not popular among the U.S populations."

John Richardson, a member of Republicans Overseas living in Toronto, says he disagrees with the politicization of abortion and noted the push from Democrats outside the U.S. to galvanize support using the topic.

"From my point of view, I don't think that abortion should be a political issue in 2022," said Richardson, a dual citizen from Massachusetts who said he didn't vote in the midterms.

"The United States needs to kind of grow up and move beyond this, and I don't think it should be used, though, to demonize political parties one way or the other."

When asked about the midterm results Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada will continue to work productively with the U.S. government and administration, regardless of the election outcome.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 9, 2022.

— With files from The Associated Press.

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press