Democrat who made reproductive rights a campaign focus will win Alabama special election,

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CNN
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Marilyn Lands, a Democrat who made reproductive rights a central part of her campaign, will win a special election Tuesday for an Alabama state House seat, CNN projects.

Her victory serves as another data point for national Democrats, who hope the backlash over strict state abortion laws following the overturning of Roe v. Wade and concerns about in vitro fertilization treatments will help their party in November, even in traditionally Republican areas.

The Biden campaign heralded Lands’ victory as a “warning sign” for former President Donald Trump and “extreme MAGA Republicans.” Alabama voters “know exactly who’s to blame for restricting their ability to decide how and when to build their families and they’re ready to fight back,” Biden-Harris campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez said in a statement.

Lands said her win sends “a clear message” to Montgomery. “Our legislature must repeal Alabama’s no-exceptions abortion ban, fully restore access to IVF, and protect the right to contraception,” she said Tuesday night.

The special election will not change the balance of power in Alabama, where Republicans hold super majorities in both legislative chambers and control the governor’s office.

But Democrats touted the win in a red state and what that could mean for November. “Tonight’s victory is a political earthquake in Alabama – the heart of Republican territory and ground zero for the most egregious attacks on our fundamental freedoms,” Heather Williams, the president of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, said in a statement.

Williams called the win a “harbinger of things to come” ahead of the general election.

Lands, a licensed professional counselor who lost her 2022 bid for the Huntsville-area seat by nearly 7 points, opposes the state’s near-total ban on abortion and openly discussed the abortion she had more than 20 years ago after her fetus tested positive for a rare genetic condition.

Her opponent, Republican Teddy Powell, a two-term Madison City councilman, avoided discussing abortion rights and focused his campaign on economic development, infrastructure and education funding. Powell described himself as “pro-life” but said he might be open to considering legislation to add exceptions for rape and incest to Alabama’s abortion ban.

The seat opened up after Republican state Rep. David Cole resigned last year. Cole pleaded guilty to committing election fraud by voting in the district he represented despite not living there.

Alabama became one of about a dozen states to prohibit abortion with few exceptions when its trigger law went into effect after the US Supreme Court eliminated federal abortion protections in 2022.

Earlier this year, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos are considered children, which made IVF clinics liable in wrongful-death lawsuits if embryos were destroyed. Several Alabama providers paused some IVF services in the wake of the ruling. Though Alabama politicians quickly enacted legislation to shield patients and clinics from criminal and civil liability, Democrats and abortion rights advocates said the court decision grew out of anti-abortion policies, including laws that say life begins at conception.

This story has been updated with additional reaction.

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