States where abortion is on the ballot in November
(NEXSTAR) – The Supreme Court’s June ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade and left the question of abortion rights up to the states has produced ballot questions in a handful of states this fall.
Three states are asking voters some variation of whether they want to establish a right to abortion, while a single state is asking if its constitution should be changed to say there is no such right to abortion or for government funding.
Kansas voters resoundingly rejected a ballot measure that would have permitted lawmakers to tighten abortion laws or outlaw the procedure outright in August — the first such test since the high court’s ruling.
Let’s take a closer look at what voters will be deciding when voting concludes Nov. 8:
What states have an abortion-related ballot measure?
California, Michigan and Vermont are all considering questions that would amend their state constitutions to establish some form of a right to abortion.
In California, Proposition 1 states that a “yes” vote would add language to the state constitution saying that the “state shall not deny or interfere with an individual’s reproductive freedom in their most intimate decisions, which includes their fundamental right to choose to have an abortion and their fundamental right to choose or refuse contraceptives.”
Instead of running campaign ads as his first TV spots, Gov. Gavin Newsom decided to spend $2.5 million over two weeks on ads urging Californians to vote for Prop 1.
Kentucky is asking voters whether to amend the state constitution to say it doesn’t protect the right to an abortion.
Millions of dollars are pouring into the coffers of groups opposing the amendment. The Blue Grass state was one of the roughly 12 states with so-called “trigger laws” to end abortion access as soon as Roe v. Wade was overturned.
Montana is asking voters whether to require medical care and treatment for infants born alive after an attempted abortion.
Known as the “Born Alive” ballot initiative, the measure declares that an embryo or fetus that survives delivery or an attempted abortion and has a right to medical care.
Why are these being voted on now?
The ballot measures come in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s ruling in June that the U.S. Constitution doesn’t confer a right to abortion and “the authority to regulate abortion must be returned to the people and their elected representatives.”
Vermont Gov. Phil, Scott suggested in a statement this summer that the question had taken on new urgency since the court’s ruling.
“It is more important than ever to make sure the women in our state have the right to make their own decisions about their health, bodies, and their futures,” he said.
Kentucky has moved to tighten restrictions on abortion since the GOP took control of the Legislature in 2016, and Montana’s Republican-controlled Legislature passed the legislation referring the question to voters before the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling this summer overturned Roe vs. Wade.
Kentucky’s Supreme Court is hearing arguments in a case over the state’s near-total abortion ban after the November election, but has kept that prohibition in effect while the case is pending.
Abortion is currently legal in Vermont, with no limit on when during a pregnancy it can be carried out. California and Michigan permit abortions before viability, usually defined as around 24 weeks. Montana restricts abortions after viability as well, but a court has put a hold on a measure that would bar the procedure after 20 weeks pending litigation.
When asked in a June 2022 NewsNation poll whether or not it should be possible for a woman to obtain a legal abortion, respondents agreed in overwhelming numbers in the following situations: life of child would be endangered (62.10), life of woman would be endangered (72.04) and pregnancy was a result of rape or incest (75.47).
Just 39.86% of those polled agreed that a woman should have access to a legal abortion if she “does not want to be pregnant for any other reason.”
What is the status of abortion in the states now?
State legislatures and courts have shifted the status of abortion laws across the United States.
Bans are in place at all stages of pregnancy in a dozen states.
In Wisconsin, clinics have stopped providing abortions, though there’s dispute over whether a ban is in effect.
In Georgia, abortion is banned at the detection of cardiac activity — generally around six weeks and before women often know they’re pregnant.
Seven states, including the District of Columbia, don’t restrict abortion by gestational range at all.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.