Magazine article The Nation's Health

November Elections Yield Victory for Popular Public Health Causes

Magazine article The Nation's Health

November Elections Yield Victory for Popular Public Health Causes

Article excerpt

Public health was the victor across the country on Election Day in November, with voters approving state ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage, protect access to reproductive health services and curb tobacco smoke in public places.

Among the most-watched state ballot initiatives--and one of the most fiercely fought-was in South Dakota, where voters rejected the nation's most sweeping abortion ban. With 56 percent of the vote, South Dakota residents rejected the new statewide restriction that would have outlawed abortion, while making no exception for the health of the woman or situations such as rape and incest. State Gov. Mike Rounds signed the antiabortion legislation into law last year, but because of legal action, the law for popular public never went into effect.

Other reproductive health-related issues rejected in the voting booth were initiatives in California and Oregon that would have mandated parental notification for minors before receiving an abortion. Voters in California rejected such a measure for the second time. APHA is among a number of health organizations opposed to parental notification mandates because such requirements could cause long delays that could harm the health of young women.

"Good family communication, unfortunately, cannot be imposed by government," said APHA member Lois Uttley, MPP, director of the Merger-Watch Project, during an Association-sponsored news conference on state ballot initiatives Nov. 7. "The real answer to teen pregnancy is prevention."

On the anti-tobacco front, voters in six states approved smoke-free workplace initiatives, raising tobacco taxes and funding tobacco prevention programs. Arizona, Nevada and Ohio welcomed new smoking bans at work and other public places; Florida will now be required to use tobacco settlement money to support smoking prevention; and South Dakota and Arizona smokers will face higher tobacco taxes. …

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