UNITED STATES NEWS

Which states could have abortion on the ballot in 2024?

Feb 6, 2024, 10:09 PM | Updated: Mar 19, 2024, 4:14 pm

The Florida Supreme Court is hearing arguments Wednesday on whether a ballot measure to enshrine the right to abortion in the state constitution should go before voters in November.

It’s one of several states where abortion might be on the ballot this year.

There has been a major push across the country to put 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 Democrat-dominated 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. In Florida, there’s legal wrangling on the details.

WHAT’S SECURELY ON 2024 BALLOTS?

MARYLAND

Maryland voters this year will also be asked whether to enshrine the right for women to end their pregnancies in the state’s constitution in a ballot question put before them by lawmakers last year. The state already protects the right to abortion under state law and Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1. Abortion is allowed in Maryland until viability.

NEW YORK

New York lawmakers agreed to ask voters to bar discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, pregnancy outcome and reproductive healthcare as part of a broader equal protection amendment. It would also bar discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin and disability. The language of the constitutional amendment does not mention abortion specifically. Abortion is allowed in New York law until viability.

WHERE ELSE COULD ABORTION BE ON THE BALLOT IN 2024?

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. Current law bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

ARKANSAS

Proponents of an amendment to allow abortion in many cases have until July 5 to gather nearly 91,000 valid signatures 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 limits as soon as 20 weeks, the proposal does not have the support of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, which includes Arkansas. The state has a ban on abortion at all stages of pregnancy with narrow exceptions.

COLORADO

There are dueling efforts on abortion in Colorado. One measure would create a voter-initiated law to ban access throughout pregnancy and the other would amend the state constitution to protect it. The abortion rights amendment would also require Medicaid and private health insurance to cover abortion.

Supporters on each side have to submit more than 124,000 signatures to get a measure on the ballot. The deadlines to submit them are April 15 for the ban measure and April 26 for the one to ensure access. Amending the constitution in Colorado requires the support of 55% of voters. But the ban could be passed with a simple majority. Abortion is legal at all stages of pregnancy in Colorado.

FLORIDA

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. State Attorney General Ashley Moody has asked the state Supreme Court to keep the measure off the ballot, saying there are differing views on the meaning of “viability” and that some key terms in the proposed measure are not properly defined.

If the measure goes before voters, 60% of them would have to vote yes for it to take effect.

Abortion is legal in Florida through the first 15 weeks of pregnancy. But a 2023 law would drop that to six weeks — often before women know they’re pregnant — if the 15-week ban survives a court challenge.

MISSOURI

Pushes are underway to get dueling abortion-related ballot measures before Missouri voters in 2024. Abortion rights advocates in Missourians for Constitutional Freedom are pushing for one that would guarantee abortion is legal until viability.

A group of moderate Republicans are taking a different approach and calling for an amendment that would allow abortion up to 12 weeks, and after that only under limited exceptions.

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

MONTANA

Abortion rights proponents have proposed a constitutional amendment in Montana 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. But Attorney General Austin Knudsen ruled that the measure is legally insufficient. Advocates are appealing to the state’s top court. If the court allows it to move ahead, supporters would need to gather more than 60,000 signatures by June 21 to get it on the ballot. Abortion is currently legal until viability in Montana.

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. Under a law adopted last year, abortion is banned 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, which is already assured under a 1990 law, would be enshrined in the constitution. It requires more than 102,000 valid signatures by June 26 to place the measure on the ballot. Voters would need to approve it in both 2024 and 2026 to change the constitution.

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

SOUTH DAKOTA

South Dakota advocates are attempting to gather more than 35,000 signatures by May 7 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.

WHICH STATES CAN BUT LIKELY WON’T PUT ABORTION ON THE BALLOT?

There are some states where the balance of power or other circumstances make abortion-related measures — most of them seeking bans or limits — unlikely to reach voters in 2024.

IOWA

To put a constitutional amendment on the ballot, Iowa lawmakers have to approve it in two consecutive sessions. In 2021, both chambers advanced a resolution to find there is no constitutional right to abortion in the state. Republicans control the Legislature and governor’s office, but the amendment has not emerged as a priority this year and Gov. Kim Reynolds has said she’ll let the issue move through the courts rather than pushing for a vote. Abortion is currently banned 20 weeks into pregnancy. A stricter ban, which would kick in when cardiac activity can be detected, around six weeks, has been adopted but put on hold by a court.

MAINE

Democrats are calling for a measure to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution. But they would not have the required two-thirds majority of lawmakers in each legislative chamber to adopt it and send it to voters without the support of several Republican lawmakers. Abortion is already allowed throughout pregnancy.

PENNSYLVANIA

Pennsylvania has a similar process as Iowa with a similar amendment to find no constitutional right to abortion up for consideration. Lawmakers passed it in 2022. But Democrats have since taken control of the state House, making it unlikely to pass, which is required before it can go to a statewide referendum. Abortion is now legal in Pennsylvania for up to 24 weeks of pregnancy.

WISCONSIN

The Wisconsin Assembly in January approved calling for a binding statewide referendum for a law to ban abortions after 14 weeks of pregnancy. Even if the state Senate approves, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has promised to veto it. Abortion is legal within the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.

___

This article has been updated to correct the number of signatures required to get the South Dakota measure on the ballot — more than 35,000, not 17,500 — and to correct details about the proposed measure there. It has also been updated to correct the deadlines for petitions in Colorado; they are April 18 for a measure that would ban abortion and April 26 for one that would ensure access, not Aug. 5 for both.

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Which states could have abortion on the ballot in 2024?