THE BALLOTS CAST across the nation spoke so unambiguously about abortion that even the most intransigent anti-abortionists should be able to construe the message: Voters do not want Big Brother opening the doors of private homes -- or the doctor's office -- and coercing people's most personal medical decisions.
Anti-abortionists have been craving a test case to put before the U.S. Supreme Court, in hopes of overturning Roe vs. Wade -- and thought they had it when the South Dakota Legislature passed a ban on abortion. Instead of challenging the law in court, though, pro-choice forces cleverly put the matter to a popular referendum. Even in that socially conservative, anti-abortion state, a decisive majority Tuesday preserved a woman's right to choose. To some extent, they were bothered by the ban's extraordinary lack of compassion, refusing to exempt even the victims of rape and incest. But a frequently voiced complaint about the ban was that government simply shouldn't interfere with private lives.
That's a closely held American value and one that Republicans should embrace again lest they want to see this midterm election be a harbinger of a long-range trend.
Both California and Oregon voted down attempts to require parental notification before a minor can obtain an abortion. In several other states, anti-abortion congressional candidates were defeated, and Kansas' Phill Kline, the state attorney general who notoriously overreached the powers of his office in his single-minded attack on family planning and abortion clinics, was turned out of office.