In Alabama, a 'Political Earthquake,' Over Abortion, IVF

Democrat Marilyn Lands wins special election for state House seat, running on abortion and IVF
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 27, 2024 9:30 AM CDT
She Ran on Abortion, IVF in Deep-Red State, Won Handily
Protesters for women's rights hold a rally on the Alabama Capitol steps on May 19, 2019, in Montgomery, Alabama.   (AP Photo/Butch Dill, File)

In vitro fertilization has now been granted protections in Alabama, after a controversial state Supreme Court ruling in February that declared embryos as children in the eyes of the law. Now, a Democrat in the deep-red state has been handed a "decisive victory" in a special election there, in a state House district that Donald Trump won, albeit narrowly, in 2020, reports the Washington Post.

  • Details: Licensed mental health counselor Marilyn Lands won 63% of the vote at Tuesday's polls, to GOP opponent Teddy Powell's 37%, reports Newsweek. The outlet notes that Lands ran for the same seat in 2022, and her Republican opponent then, David Cole, won, 52% to 45%. That represents a 33-point swing for Lands, who will finish Cole's term and be up for reelection in 2026.

  • Special election: The election was held following Cole's resignation last summer after pleading guilty to voter fraud for renting a "closet-size space" so he could run for office in a district where he didn't live, per the AP.
  • Lands' platform: Stumping for abortion and IVF access apparently proved an effective strategy. "From what I heard from the voters at the polls I was at, [reproductive rights] was a really big factor. And so many women came out," Lands told the Post.
  • Context: Alabama has a near-total ban on abortion, claims that controversial IVF ruling mentioned earlier, and has a Republican-dominated Legislature. The GOP also lays claim to the major statewide offices there, per the AP.
  • The message: Lands' victory shows "that abortion remains a winning issue for Democrats, even in the deep South," per Politico. The Post notes that "voters have supported abortion rights on ballot initiatives all over the country, including in conservative-leaning states such as Kansas, Ohio, and Kentucky."
  • Reaction: It's a "political earthquake in Alabama," Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee President Heather Williams tells the AP. "This special election is a harbinger of things to come." Powell, meanwhile, said in a Tuesday night concession statement that he wished Lands the "absolute best." The Post notes that he "did not mention abortion or IVF."
  • From Lands: "Today, Alabama women and families sent a clear message that will be heard in Montgomery and across the nation," Lands, who spoke of her own abortion experience during her campaign, said in a statement, per the AP.
(More Alabama stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.