Democratic Massachusetts Congressman Ed Markey won Tuesday’s special election, keeping the balance of power in the Senate unchanged. Senator-elect Markey beat Republican rival Gabriel Gomez, a conservative businessman, 55 percent to 45 percent, and will take over the seat vacated by former Senator and current Secretary of State John Kerry.
Abortion and birth control were not major focuses in the race, partially because of Gomez’s steadfast refusal to clarify his position on allowing employers to prohibit insurance coverage for birth control on “moral” grounds. Gomez admitted to supporting mandatory waiting periods and said he opposes to any federal funding of abortion, even when it comes to federal subsidies of insurance plans on state exchanges that cover abortion services.
Although Congress typically does not take on federal abortion bans, that has changed within the last few years as an increasingly conservative and anti-choice House has began introducing restrictions on parental consent for teens, supposed gender- and race-based abortions, and most recently a ban on abortions after 20 weeks post-fertilization, which is based on the disproven claim that a fetus feels pain at that point. None of these bills have so far been able to pass the Senate.