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Democrat who campaigned on reproductive rights wins special election for Alabama state House seat

Biden urges Congress to guarantee IVF rights
Biden calls on Congress to guarantee right to IVF nationwide 04:00

Washington — Democrat Marilyn Lands won a special election for an Alabama state House seat late Tuesday, flipping a Republican-held seat in the deep-red state in the aftermath of a court ruling in the state that threw access to fertility treatments into question.

Lands, a mental health counselor, made reproductive rights central to her campaign. She's spoken openly about her own abortion when her pregnancy was nonviable. And she ran advertisements on reproductive health care, like contraception and in vitro fertilization, being threatened in the state, after an Alabama Supreme Court ruling that equated frozen embryos to children and led major IVF providers in the state to pause fertility treatments. 

"Today, Alabama women and families sent a clear message that will be heard in Montgomery and across the nation," Lands said in a statement after her victory on Tuesday. "Our legislature must repeal Alabama's no-exceptions abortion ban, fully restore access to IVF, and protect the right to contraception."

Democratic candidate Marilyn Lands speaks to voters in the suburbs in Huntsville, Alabama on March 20, 2024.
Democratic candidate Marilyn Lands speaks to voters in the suburbs in Huntsville, Alabama on March 20, 2024.  Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The seat representing Alabama's 10th district in the state legislature had long been held by Republicans. But former President Donald Trump won the district by a slim margin in 2020, making it a toss-up district that Democrats had set their sights on. Lands also ran for the seat in 2022, but narrowly lost to her Republican opponent. 

Heather Williams, president of Democrats' legislative campaign arm, called the special election "the first real test" of how voters would respond to the IVF ruling in Alabama and reproductive rights more broadly, and "a harbinger of things to come."

"Republicans across the country have been put on notice that there are consequences to attacks on IVF — from the bluest blue state to the reddest red, voters are choosing to fight for their fundamental freedoms by electing Democrats across the country," Williams said in a statement.

Democrats are hoping this year for a repeat of the 2022 midterm elections, when the Supreme Court's ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade and subsequent restrictions in states became a major motivator at the ballot box, fending off an expected red wave. Democrats are expecting that fallout from the IVF ruling to reinvigorate the voter base, keeping reproductive rights top of mind heading into the 2024 election. 

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