Alabama's contentious special election came to a close Tuesday when voters elected a Democrat to fill the vacant Senate seat. While debates surrounding women's health weren't at the center of the race, the two candidates' views on reproductive rights did become a frequent talking point for Republican Roy Moore's campaign. Because of Moore's conservative religious beliefs, Democrat Doug Jones' stance on abortion gave reproductive rights advocates cause for celebration.
Jones made his platform crystal clear in an interview with AL.com in November. "I fully support a woman's freedom to choose to what happens to her own body," he said. "That is an intensely, intensely personal decision that only she, in consultation with her god, her doctor, her partner or family, that's her choice."
The newly elected senator previously promised not to support legislation that would ban abortion at 20 weeks if elected. "I'm not in favor of anything that is going to infringe on a woman's right and her freedom to choose," he explained in an October interview with MSNBC. "That's just the position that I've had for many years."
Similarly, he vowed to support Planned Parenthood in Congress because of the "life-saving" services it provides to women across the country.
"A victory for Doug Jones is a victory for Alabama and for women everywhere!" said Staci Fox, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates, in a statement provided to Bustle. "Alabama elected a leader who has proven that he will fight for women, children, and families — no matter what."
Moore's campaign ramped up its focus on abortion after multiple women accused the Republican candidate of sexual assault and making sexual advances toward teenage girls (Moore has repeatedly denied the allegations). A few weeks before the election, spokesperson Janet Porter told a pregnant CNN reporter Moore would "stand for the rights of babies like yours in the womb."
Moore also got an official endorsement from the National Right to Life. The organization's political director, Karen Cross, released a statement via the Moore campaign bashing Jones' abortion stance:
There is a stark contrast between Judge Moore, who supports legal protection for unborn children, and Doug Jones, who supports abortion for any reason until birth.
Although both Cross and Porter claimed Jones supports access to abortion "until birth," that's not entirely true. Alabama law allows abortions up until 22 weeks of pregnancy, and Jones doesn't think restrictions on late-term abortions that include exceptions for the mother's health should be changed.
"The law for decades has been that late-term procedures are generally restricted except in the case of medical necessity. That's what I support," Jones told AL.com in November. "I don't see any changes in that. It is a personal decision."
Along with beating a staunch anti-abortion opponent, Jones will also fill the seat left vacant by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is also strongly against abortion. After an undocumented teenage immigrant was allowed to end her pregnancy following a long court battle, Sessions said the Justice Department was "disturbed" by the decision.
"I made my decision and that is between me and God," the girl said in a statement released by the ACLU after she had the abortion. "Through all of this, I have never changed my mind."
Jones' vows to protect the current level of abortion access could prove vital, as his election narrows the GOP's majority in the Senate to 51-49. Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski often vote in favor of increased access to women's health services, so Jones' additional Senate vote could prevent a 20-week abortion ban (as was proposed in October) or the defunding Planned Parenthood (which continues to come up year after year).