Abortion rights, marijuana use and legalized gambling drew mixed results on state ballots across the U.S. Nov. 6.
Alabama voters authorized display of the Ten Commandments in public places in a measure that prohibits the use of public funding to support challenges to the state constitutional amendment in court. The amendment, which requires displays to comply with federal constitutional requirements, carried 72 percent of the vote, the Montgomery Advertiser reported.
Alabama and West Virginia amended their constitutions to proclaim that the states themselves do not recognize a woman’s right to abortion, nor authorize the use of public funding to pay for such procedures, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
The amendments will only make a difference in the states in the event of a reversal of Roe v. Wade, according to news reports, and provide no exceptions for rape or the mother’s life endangerment.
The measures, as noted in Alabama’s Amendment 2, “recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children, including the right to life.” Voters ushered in the measure with 60 percent of the vote in Alabama, and 52 percent in Virginia.
Conversely, voters in Oregon rejected a state constitutional amendment that would limit abortion funding to mothers whose lives are in danger or who have suffered rape or incest, AP reported. Voters rejected Oregon’s Measure 104 by 64.2 to 35.8 percent, according to unofficial results published by the Oregon Secretary of State’s office.
Oregon is one of 17 states that use state revenue for abortions for women who are Medicaid eligible, according to Guttmacher Institute statistics.
Virginia and Alabama join four other states with so-called “trigger laws” banning funding for abortion in the event of Roe v. Wade’s reversal, according to Business Insider. Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana and South Dakota are included.
Michigan became the 10th state to legalize recreational marijuana use, the Detroit Free Press reported. Voters approved 56-44 percent the proposal that allows adults 21 and older to buy and grow marijuana to use recreationally.
Utah voters approved a medical marijuana initiative by 53.2 to 46.8, the lieutenant governor’s office reported. But a bipartisan deal struck in advance of the vote allows a special legislative session to craft a more limited bill, the Washington Post reported, regardless of the Nov. 6 result.
Missouri voters had three marijuana legalization amendments on the ballot, but rejected two of them in favor of a measure legalizing medical use, regulating facilities and imposing a 4 percent tax on retail sales. Voters favored the measure 65.5 to 34.5 percent, according to complete but unofficial state returns.
North Dakota voters rejected recreational marijuana use by 59.5-40.54 percent, according to the North Dakota Secretary of State’s office. The measure would have removed hashish, marijuana, and tetrahydrocannabinols from the state’s list of controlled substances, but included no guidelines for use.
Medical marijuana use is now legal in 13 states and being considered in seven, according to USLegal.com.
Among six states with gambling measures on the ballot, Louisiana and Arkansas approved voting measures affecting specific parishes and counties; Florida voters outlawed dog race gambling, and Idaho rejected a horse racing measure.
Maryland secured certain gambling revenue for education, and Missouri voters lessened restrictions on charitable bingo games, according to news reports.
The Arkansas statewide measure, approved 54-46 percent, allows four casinos in Crittenden, Garland, Pope and Jefferson counties, AP reported. The Arkansas Baptist State Convention adopted a resolution against the amendment at its annual meeting in October, but further committed to restore and rehabilitate those involved in “problem gambling” if the measure prevailed.
Louisiana widely approved a fantasy sports measure that will be enforceable only in parishes where the measure passed, according to the Baton Rouge Advocate. In the local option in all of the state’s 64 parishes, residents gained legal participation in online fantasy sports contests from such companies as DraftKings and FanDuel. Large swaths of residents across southern, central and northern Louisiana approved the measure, the Advocate reported.
Florida voted 69-31 percent to phase out gambling on greyhound races by 2020, the Orlando Sentinel reported. Florida has 11 of the nation’s 17 active dog tracks, the Sentinel said.
Idaho rejected 53.6 to 46.4 percent a measure to legalize “historical” or “instant” horse race betting at venues where live or simulcast horse racing occurs, the state reported. Betting would have been conducted through video terminals, LegalBettingOnline.com said.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)