Home Politics Here’s where abortion measures are on the ballot in November

Here’s where abortion measures are on the ballot in November

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Advocates are pushing to put abortion on the ballot — literally — in November, spurring hope among Democrats that having measures aimed at enshrining rights around the procedure could boost turnout and help their candidates in the most competitive races.

Seven states have voted on abortion since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade back in 2022, handing the issue over to individual states back in 2022. Voters in Michigan, California and Vermont approved measures enshrining abortion rights in their state constitutions during the midterms, while Montana and Kentucky rejected restrictions to the procedure. Deep-red Ohio also voted last year for an abortion protections amendment.

Now, measures aimed at solidifying reproductive rights are already on the 2024 ballot in several states, while similar efforts are underway in other parts of the country.

Here’s where the abortion ballot measure movement stands in various states ahead of November:

On the ballot

Florida

The Florida state Supreme Court decided on Monday to allow a ballot measure that would enshrine abortion protections to go before voters in the fall. 

Supporters in the Sunshine State gathered enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, but the state court needed to approve the measure’s language. 

The amendment could undo Florida’s conservative restrictions on abortion. The procedure is currently banned at 15 weeks, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who ran an unsuccessful bid for the White House this year, signed a six-week abortion ban last spring that’s yet to be enacted. 

The Florida Supreme Court on Monday also affirmed the 15-week ban, opening the door for the DeSantis-backed restrictions to go into effect. But Floridians will now also get a chance to nullify those bans when they vote on the measure in November. 

“We’re counting down the days until the court might rule on a six-week ban,” Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, told The Hill just before the decision. “And we already see people being harmed by the ban that’s in place. There’s just too many hurdles for people to access care.” 

Maryland

The Old Line State is a blue stronghold where abortion is legal until viability, but advocates want to take action against any future threats. 

Voters in Maryland are set to weigh an amendment to the state constitution that would establish a “fundamental right to reproductive freedom” and restrict the state from burdening or abridging that right. 

Gov. Wes Moore (D-Md.) has said the state will be “a safe haven for abortion access” as long as he holds the governor’s mansion, but the proposed amendment “will make sure it remains that way, no matter who is in office.” 

The measure could also help turnout in the state, as Democrats ready for a potentially competitive Senate race after popular Republican former Gov. Larry Hogan jumped into the ring. 

New York

New Yorkers are set to vote this fall on whether to ratify an Equal Rights Amendment that would, along with bolstering other rights, protect against government actions that would curtail access to reproductive care. 

Abortion is legal until viability and largely safe from threat in the blue state, but advocates want to enshrine the protections while they can to safeguard against future threats.

“​​These legal protections go above and beyond the protections of the federal constitution, and insulate New Yorkers from state political winds that seek to eliminate or narrow existing legal protections,” said New Yorkers for Equal Rights, the coalition arguing for the amendment passage.

The move to include the amendment on the 2024 ballot may also serve as a boost for Democrats in a state that is set to be key to deciding control of the lower chamber. With multiple competitive House races in play, strategists say an abortion-related measure could energize the party and help tilt the scales in its favor. 

In progress

Arizona

In Arizona, advocates are collecting signatures to get another constitutional amendment that would protect abortion before viability in front of voters this fall.

Abortion is restricted after 15 weeks in the Grand Canyon State, with exceptions for medical emergencies. The state Supreme Court has also been asked to reinstate a near-total ban, and courts are litigating a law that criminalizes a doctor for performing an abortion sought solely because of a genetic abnormality, according to the state attorney general.

“We have a state legislature where a majority of [those] that serve are really anti-abortion, quite frankly,” Chris Love, a senior adviser for Arizona for Abortion Access, told The Hill. “They are ready to ban abortion and pass more extreme bans as time goes on. And so I think the time is now to address this issue. This is our shot to ensure that we’re protecting abortion rights.”

Arizona is holding a competitive Senate race this year after Democrat-turned-Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema opted against running for reelection and teed up a likely showdown between Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego and Republican former gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake. The swing state is also likely to be instrumental in the White House race.  

Colorado

Organizers in Colorado are collecting signatures to get an amendment on the ballot that would formally recognize “the right to abortion” and prevent the government from denying or impeding it, including by prohibiting health insurance coverage for the procedure.  

In the Centennial State, which has no gestational limits for abortion care, a Republican state lawmaker earlier this month put forward a bill that would have assigned “personhood” to fetuses at conception, as reported by Colorado News Online.

Coloradans for Protecting Reproductive Freedom pointed to the bill as “exactly why” they’re fronting the effort to enshrine abortion protections even in a state that currently offers legal access.  

Missouri

An amendment being circulated by Missourians for Constitutional Freedom would set up the individual right “to make and carry out decisions about all matters relating to reproductive health care.” 

Missouri was the first state to enact a “trigger law” after Roe was overturned, and has one of the most restrictive policies in the country. Abortion is completely banned in the red state, and requires an “affirmative defense” to meet the criteria for an exception, according to the Guttmacher Institute.  

Advocates have been hosting petition-signing events to meet the state’s in-person requirements as they work to hit the threshold they need to get on the ballot. 

Montana

The Republican state attorney general in Montana labeled a ballot measure to protect abortion invalid, but the state’s Supreme Court earlier this month overruled the move, moving the effort forward.

Abortion is legal before viability in Montana, but advocates want to take quick action to shore up those protections in a state controlled by a Republican governor and GOP-led state legislature. 

“While abortion is currently legal in Montana, our rights are not guaranteed.” advocates told The Hill in a joint statement from Akilah Deernose, the executive director of the ACLU of Montana; Kiersten Iwai, the executive director of Forward Montana; and Martha Fuller, CEO and president of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana. 

Over a dozen anti-abortion bills were introduced during the 2023 Montana legislative session alone, and many were signed into law. We can no longer exclusively play defense against attacks, and we must secure the rights Montanans deserve.” 

Strategists stressed that the measure could — as in other states — serve as a boost to Democrats, as incumbent Sen. Jon Tester (D) fights to keep his seat in one of the most closely watched Senate races this year.

Nebraska

A Right to Abortion amendment in Nebraska would add protections for abortion until viability, and the Protect Our Rights effort has until July to collect the signatures they need to get on the ballot. 

At the same time, another petition in circulation would ban abortion in the second and third trimesters. 

Nebraska’s governor signed a 12-week abortion ban last year, which the state’s Republican governor has called “the most significant win for social conservative agenda in over a generation of Nebraska.” 

Nevada

A Reproductive Rights Amendment in Nevada would protect a right to abortion up to the point of fetal viability, or when the procedure is needed to protect the life or health of the pregnant patient. 

The amendment would protect the procedure “unless justified by a compelling state interest that is achieved by the least restrictive means,” which the text then defines as limited to an interest in “protecting, maintaining, or improving the health of an individual who is seeking abortion care that is consistent with accepted clinical standards of practice.” 

Abortion is legal in Nevada for the first 25 weeks. 

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