A New Pro-Choice Congress In 2009

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.”

RH Reality Check 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.

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  • invalid-0

    Mahoney is actually pro-choice and the Democrat who lost to anti-choice Rooney (R).

  • invalid-0

    How long will we have to wait for passage of those policies that have been forgotten/neglected by the hateful Bush Administration? Like lifting the global gag rule and all those good things you mentioned?

    I heard that Obama and his associates have already started planning on what they will do once they take over the oval office.

  • brady-swenson

    Correction noted and made.

  • invalid-0

    Drag queens everywhere want to know: Now that the NoBrain/Flailin team has gone down, where do they line up to get Sarah’s donated clothes…….??

  • http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/comment/reply/8667 invalid-0

    Yay!!! Now I can inject saline into my uterus and terminate a life whenever my feable mind decides to. And better yet, if I’m under age, I dont even have to tell my Mommy and Daddy. DO NOT ATTEMPT to label Obama as Pro-Choice. He is so much further to the LEFT of pro-choice, he is in a category ALL BY HIMSELF. He is PRO-ABORTION from the word GO and his signing of the Freedom of Choice Act will put the final nail into the coffin of Morality in this country. Some vitory, you twit! bornalivetruth.org.

  • http://remedymenopausesymptoms.com invalid-0

    Let’s hope that with this change that women and families really are the real winners in this election.

  • therealistmom

    Where shall we start?

    1. Saline abortions are not performed anymore (or very rarely). Procedures that are better for the woman’s health have been found. They were only performed in general in rather dire circumstances, as are the vast majority of later-term abortions.

    2. FoCA does nothing more than reaffrim Roe vs Wade. Nothing more, nothing less.

    3. Obama cannot be "pro-abortion" if his ideal is to promote comprehensive sex education, provide support for pregnant women and families, and ensure contraceptive availability- all things that REDUCE the number of abortions.

    4. "Feeble" is not spelled "feable". Insulting women is not going to get you far in your cause- the vast majority of women who end up having an abortion used protection and are educated on the procedure they are having after having given it a great deal of thought. I can’t say that about your post or your "source".

    5. Parental notification laws endanger young women, and force them to have abortions later in their pregnancies. Ideally they won’t have become pregnant to begin with; that comes with education and contraceptive access. The ones who do despite these things should be able to end the pregnancy at the earliest possible stage- getting completely away from your random injection of saline strawman.


  • invalid-0

    Thank you, TheRealistMom, for laying out the truth so clearly. It’s so easy to make an argument when you don’t need actual facts or truth to believe as the commenter you were replying to makes clear. Thanks so much for getting it straight!


    Amie Newman

    Managing Editor, RH Reality Check

  • invalid-0

    Now I can inject saline into my uterus and terminate a life whenever my feable mind decides to

    At least you realize you’re feeble-minded.

  • nuysaler

    Correction noted and made.  


  • truth

    We did it – Death Wins! Let the killing of innocent babies commence at once! Everyone who kills a baby gets a $5000 tax credit from Obama and the Baby Killers! Yippee. Death, baby, death!

  • therealistmom

    You at least attempted to make sense before "Truth"… now you’re not even making an effort.

  • invalid-0

    Actually, his policies are in line with the beliefs of most pro-choicers, so I’m not sure where you get this ‘to the left of pro-choice!!!’ stuff.

    The good thing is that when abortion is legal and accessible, women don’t need to inject saline into their own uteri, as they’ll be able to have them performed safely by trained medical professionals.

  • invalid-0

    Yes, ‘Truth’, I’m talking to you.

  • truth

    like the rest of you… If that means I am a "Troll" then I guess I need a new wardrobe and a bridge to oversee.

  • invalid-0

    Since President Obama has already promised to sign FoCA when it reaches his desk, let us all write to our new representatives and senators as soon as the new Congress is seated and ask them to make this happen sooner rather than later. That said, I concur with Sarrah’s hope that women and families are the real winners here.

    On a sillier note: “Let the killing of innocent babies commence at once!”? I can’t resist asking you, Truth. I thought the rationale of most anti-choice rhetoric was that what you call the killing of innocent babies began in 1973 with Roe v. Wade. Have I been missing something all these years? Not that most of you anti-choice people actually care, but have you considered the possibility that, with improved access to contraception and fact-based sex education, the number of abortions performed in America might go down instead of up? You might at least admit you would see that as a desirable outcome, even if you don’t think it will actually happen.

  • http://www.mooswarealty.com invalid-0

    This is great. It is strides in the right direction. It seems this was a small topic in this election with the economy and war. Thank you for posting this!

  • http://www.sinetif.com invalid-0

    This is great. thanks for information.

  • http://www.idahofallstoday.com invalid-0

    It’s about time we get some movement in this area. Thank you, Amy, for one of the best writ-ups on this topic I have read. Keep up the great work!

  • http://www.idahofallstoday.com invalid-0

    Also, thank you for the link to the tracking site. Very helpful!

  • http://dinodelellis.net/ invalid-0

    I’m still on the fence when it comes to abortion ( a conflict between a woman’s right to choose and a child’s right to live ).

    But I’m very encouraged with the developments with sex education. Bush’s ” No sex before marriage ” policy is in my opinion ineffective judging from the rising number of teen pregnancies taking place.

    And I just hope Pres. Obama will push through with his campaign promises because it will be such a shame if he only made this promises for the sake of the camapign.

    -Dino Delellis

  • http://www.village-new-york-real-estate.com invalid-0

    It’s amazing, but even though there was a Pro-Life congress in the last few years, it really didn’t effect the laws. We’ll see what happens, though.

  • http://win365bingo.com/ invalid-0

    This is indeed good news. I notice that the conservative government was getting to high-handed and overbearing when it comes to making policies , then seem to be overstepping their bounds when it comes to controlling our lives.

    Hopefully this new administration will be more respectful towards it’s citizen’s right to choose.

  • http://www.hiporn.tv invalid-0


  • http://metroductcleaning.com invalid-0

    With the announcements that Obama made this week, looks like his pro choice stance is coming into view. Even the Vatican condemned the move.

  • invalid-0

    Well, then. We should all just throw up our hands, say “Oh, noooo!!!,” then beg the Vatican to forgive us our sins.

  • http://www.bransonopenhouse.com invalid-0

    I don’t know about the other states here in our nation, but as for Missouri, we’ve always been a predominately Republican / conservative state. So, i’m really not surprised to see that Sam Graves beat out KayBarnes.

  • http://exspecto.com/uk/womensclothing/ invalid-0

    Thats good news! But still lets keep our fingers crossed and see what happens.