Mississippi rejects abortion amendment; Ohio repeals anti-union law

Activists celebrate the defeat of Mississippi's Initiative 26 on Tuesday night in Jackson.

Story highlights

  • Two ballot measures had national implications in an off-year election
  • Mississippi rejects amendment that would have defined life as beginning at conception
  • Ohio voters repeal law that limited public workers' collective bargaining rights

Mississippi voters Tuesday rejected a controversial amendment that would have defined life as beginning at conception while Ohio voters repealed a law that limited the collective bargaining rights of public workers, CNN projects.

The two ballot measures had national implications as Americans voted in an off-year election.

The Mississippi amendment would have made it impossible to get an abortion in the state and hampered the ability to get the morning-after pill or birth control pills that destroy fertilized eggs. Disposing of unused fertilized eggs could also have become illegal, making in vitro fertilization treatments more difficult.

National right to life groups opposed the measure and the Catholic Church in Mississippi called it extreme.

The Ohio law limited the bargaining rights of police, teachers, firefighters and other public workers over salaries, workplace conditions and hours. It prohibited strikes and promotions based on seniority only, and required public workers to contribute at least 10% of their income toward their pensions and at least 15% to pay for their health care insurance.

The Republican-controlled legislature passed the bill Republican Gov. John Kasich signed it into law in March but a successful petition drive kept it from being enacted and placed it on the November ballot.

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Kasich said Tuesday night that it was clear that the people had spoken.

    "Part of leading is listening to and hearing what people have to say to you," he said.

    The vote was seen as a victory for unions and Democrats, but CNN projects that Democrats are taking a loss in Ohio in a measure that exempts Ohioans from compulsory participation in the mandatory health care coverage portion of President Barack Obama's health care reform law passed last year. Since the measure is a state one and the health law is a federal one, it is unclear what impact it might have and it is seen as largely a protest vote.

    In other elections around the country:

    • CNN projects that Mississippi's governor's seat will stay in Republican hands as Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant appeared to be on his way to victory over Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree, who would have been the state's first African-American governor. DuPree, who was elected the first black mayor of Hattiesburg in 2001, was expected to spark a stronger than usual turnout in the African-American community.

    Bryant will succeed Republican Gov. Haley Barbour, who was barred by term limits from running again after serving two terms.

    • In Arizona, the state senator who wrote the controversial immigration law lost to a charter school superintendent in a recall election widely seen as a referendum on tough measures against illegal immigrants. The recall petition pitted Russell Pearce against fellow Republican Jerry Lewis. Lewis led with 53.4% of the vote with all precincts reporting while Pearce got 45.3%.

    Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear will win a second term, CNN projects, easily beating Republican state Sen. Steve Williams in a race that centered on jobs and the economy.

    Williams frequently criticized Beshear's record on creating jobs and balancing the state budget. Beshear kept a tally of the number of jobs that companies were bringing to the state on his website.

    • While the abortion ballot initiative in Mississippi got the most attention, another constitutional amendment that CNN projects to pass will require voters to submit a government-issued photo ID. Mississippi will be the 15th state to require photo IDs to vote. Such laws have become popular with Republicans, who say they are trying to reduce voter fraud. Democrats argue that Republicans are trying to suppress voter turnout, especially among people who tend to vote for Democrats.