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Which states could have abortion on the ballot in 2024?

In some states, the question is whether amendment supporters can get enough valid signatures. In others, enshrining abortion access is up to the legislature.
Abortion–South Carolina
Posted at 7:21 PM, May 07, 2024

A New York judge on Tuesday removed an equal protection measure from the state's November ballot, knocking back to two the number of states where abortion-related amendments will definitely go before voters this year.

The ruling found that lawmakers failed to follow procedural rules when they added the equal protection amendment barring discrimination based on “pregnancy outcomes” and “reproductive healthcare,” among other categories.

Still, the push is on across the U.S. to pose abortion rights questions to voters since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and removed the nationwide right to abortion.

Since that 2022 decision, most Republican-controlled states have new abortion restrictions in effect, including 14 that ban it at every stage of pregnancy. Most Democratic-led states have laws or executive orders to protect access.

Additionally, voters in seven states — California, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, Ohio and Vermont — have sided with abortion rights supporters on ballot measures.

It's not clear yet how many states will vote on measures to enshrine abortion access in November. In some, the question is whether amendment supporters can get enough valid signatures. In others, it's up to the legislature. And there's legal wrangling in some states.

Some efforts that sought to restrict or ban abortion have also failed to reach ballots. In Wisconsin, the House approved a measure asking voters to ban abortion after 14 weeks, but the legislative session ended without a vote from the state Senate. Likewise, Iowa lawmakers ended their session without approving a measure asking voters to find that there's no constitutional right to abortion. Pennsylvania lawmakers previously pursued a similar amendment, but it’s not expected to be added to the ballot this year. A Louisiana measure to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution died in committee, and one in Maine effectively died when it fell short of receiving the approval of two-thirds of the House.

Here's what to know about where abortion stands on state ballots this election cycle.

Florida

The state Supreme Court ruled on April 1 that a ballot measure to legalize abortion until viability could go on the ballot despite a legal challenge from state Attorney General Ashley Moody, who argued that there are differing views on the meaning of “viability” and that some key terms in the proposed measure are not properly defined.

Advocates collected nearly a million signatures to put a state constitutional amendment to legalize abortion until viability on the ballot, surpassing the nearly 892,000 required.

Sixty percent of voters would have to agree for it to take effect.

Abortion is currently illegal in Florida after the first six weeks of pregnancy under a law that took effect on May 1.

Maryland

Maryland voters also will be asked this year to enshrine the right to abortion in the state’s constitution. The state already protects the right to abortion under state law and Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1. Abortion is allowed in Maryland until viability.

Arizona

A signature drive is underway to add a constitutional right to abortion in Arizona. Under the measure, the state would not be able to ban abortion until the fetus is viable, with later abortions allowed to protect a woman's physical or mental health. Supporters must gather nearly 384,000 valid signatures by July 4.

Abortion is currently legal for the first 15 weeks of pregnancy in Arizona. An Arizona Supreme Court ruling in April, said enforcement could begin soon for a near-total ban that was already on the books. The governor has since signed a bill repealing that law. It is still expected to be in effect for a time, however.

Arkansas

Proponents of an amendment to allow abortion in many cases must gather nearly 91,000 signatures by July 5 for it to get it on the Nov. 5 ballot. The measure would bar laws banning abortion in the first 20 weeks of gestation and allow abortion later in pregnancy in cases of rape, incest, threats to the woman's health or life, or if the fetus would be unlikely to survive birth. Because it allows abortion to be banned 20 weeks into pregnancy, the proposal does not have the support of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, which includes Arkansas. The state currently bans abortion at all stages of pregnancy, with narrow exceptions.

Colorado

Advocates for a ballot measure to add constitutional protections for abortion, including requiring Medicaid and private health insurers to cover it, have turned in signatures to have it placed on the ballot. The secretary of state's office has until May 17 to determine whether there are enough valid signatures. More than 124,000 are required.

Amending the state constitution requires the support of 55% of voters.

Those backing a dueling measure — a law to ban abortion — did not turn in signatures, and the measure will not go before voters.

Abortion is legal at all stages of pregnancy in Colorado.

Amanda Zurawski speaks during a campaign appearance by President Joe Biden.

Abortion

Amanda Zurawski, who was denied abortion care in Texas, talks about the growing fight for abortion rights

Scripps News Staff
4:32 PM, May 07, 2024

Missouri

Missouri abortion rights advocates turned in more than 380,000 signatures — more than twice the required 171,000 — for a measure asking voters to approve a constitutional amendment to guarantee abortion until viability.

A group of moderate Republicans have for this year abandoned efforts for an alternate amendment that would have allowed abortion up to 12 weeks, with limited exceptions after that.

Abortion is currently banned in Missouri at all stages of pregnancy, with limited exceptions.

Montana

Abortion rights proponents in Montana have proposed a constitutional amendment that would bar the government from denying the right to abortion before viability or when it’s necessary to protect the life or health of the pregnant person. After a legal battle over the ballot language, the Montana Supreme Court on April 1 wrote its version of the language that would appear on the ballot if supporters gather more than 60,000 signatures by June 21. Abortion is legal until viability in Montana, under a 1999 Montana Supreme Court opinion.

Nebraska

Advocates are trying to collect about 125,000 signatures needed by July 5 to put a constitutional amendment before voters to protect abortion rights until fetal viability. A competing petition effort would add a constitutional amendment mirroring a law adopted last year that bans abortion after 12 weeks, with some exceptions.

Nevada

Signatures are being gathered to place an abortion access amendment on Nevada's ballot in November. Under the amendment, abortion access for the first 24 weeks of pregnancy — or later to protect the health of the pregnant person — would be enshrined in the state constitution. Such access is already assured under a law passed in 1990. More than 102,000 valid signatures are required by June 26 to place the measure on the ballot. To change the constitution, voters would need to approve it in both 2024 and 2026.

The measure is one of several attempts by Nevada abortion rights groups to get a ballot question before voters in 2024 or 2026.

New York

A judge on Tuesday removed an equal protection amendment involving reproductive health care from the November ballot, finding lawmakers missed a procedural step when they put it there.

Attorney General Letitia James said she would appeal the ruling.

The measure would bar discrimination based on “pregnancy outcomes” and “reproductive healthcare," along with sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin and disability. The language does not explicitly preserve a right to abortion in New York, where it's currently allowed until viability.

South Dakota

South Dakota advocates said they submitted more than 55,000 signatures — 20,000 more than required — to get a measure on the ballot that would loosen restrictions but does not go as far as many abortion rights advocates would like. It would ban any restrictions on abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy. It would allow the state in the second trimester to "regulate the pregnant woman’s abortion decision and its effectuation only in ways that are reasonably related to the physical health of the pregnant woman.” An abortion ban would be allowed in the third trimester, as long as it included exceptions for the life and health of the woman. Planned Parenthood is not supporting the measure.

Abortion in the state is now banned at all stages of pregnancy, with narrow exceptions.