Which states could have abortion rights on the ballot in 2024?

FILE - Paul Meacham holds up a sign that reads "Ohio is pro-life" as the crowd prays during the Ohio March for Life rally at the Ohio State House in Columbus, Ohio, Friday, Oct. 8.  January 6, 2023. Abortion questions are already on the 2024 agenda in two states and could appear in several other states as well.  (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

(Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press)

Which states could have abortion rights on the ballot in 2024?

GEOFF MULVIHILL and KIMBERLEE KRUESI

February 11, 2024

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

It is one of many states where abortion takes place

rights

could be on the ballot this year.

There has been a push nationwide to ask voters questions about abortion rights since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Roe vs. Wade and abolished the nationwide right to abortion.

Since that 2022 decision, new abortion restrictions have gone into effect in most Republican-controlled states, including fourteen that ban abortion at any stage of pregnancy. Most Democratic-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 advocates on ballot measures.

It is not yet clear how many states will vote on measures to increase access to abortion in November. In some cases it is questionable whether the proponents of amendments can obtain sufficient valid signatures. In other cases it is up to the legislator. There is legal wrangling over the details in Florida.

What is safe on Bballots 2024?

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

New York

The New York Legislature agreed to ask voters to ban discrimination based on pregnancy, pregnancy outcome and reproductive health care as part of a broader equal protection amendment. There would also be no discrimination on the grounds of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin or disability. The wording of the constitutional amendment does not specifically mention abortion. Abortion is permitted under New York law until viability is established.

Where else could abortion rights be on the ballot in 2024?

A signature campaign 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. Proponents must collect nearly 384,000 valid signatures by July 4. Current law prohibits abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Arkansas

Supporters of an amendment that would allow abortion in many cases have until July 5 to collect nearly 91,000 valid signatures to get it on the Nov. 5 ballot. The measure would ban laws that ban abortion during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy and allow abortion later in pregnancy in cases of rape, incest, threats to the woman’s health or life, or if it is unlikely that the fetus will survive birth. Because it already allows 20-week limits, 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 few exceptions.

Colorado

There are dueling efforts on abortion in Colorado. One measure would create a voter-initiated law to ban entry

to abortion

during 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 of both sides have until August 5 to submit more than 124,000 signatures to get a measure on the ballot. Changing the Constitution in Colorado requires the support of 55% of voters. But the ban could be passed with a simple majority. Abortion is legal in Colorado at all stages of pregnancy.

Florida

Supporters collected nearly a million signatures to put a state constitutional amendment legalizing abortion through viability on the ballot, exceeding the required number of nearly 892,000. State Att

orne

j. Gen.

eral

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 well defined.

If the measure comes to voters’ attention, 60% of them would have to vote ‘yes’ for the measure to take effect.

Abortion is legal in Florida during the first fifteen weeks of pregnancy. But a 2023 law would often lower that to six weeks before women know they are pregnant, if the 15-week ban survives a lawsuit.

Missouri

Efforts are underway to get dueling abortion-related ballot measures before Missouri voters in 2024. Abortion rights advocates at Missourians for Constitutional Freedom are pushing for policies that guarantee abortion is legal until viable.

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

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

Montana

Abortion rights advocates have proposed a constitutional amendment in Montana that would prevent the government from denying the right to an abortion before viability or when it is necessary to protect the life or health of the pregnant person. But Att

orne

j. Gen.

eral

Austin Knudsen ruled that the measure is legally insufficient. Attorneys are appealing to the state Supreme Court. If the court goes through with the agreement, supporters would have to collect 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 gather about 125,000 signatures needed by July 5 to submit a constitutional amendment to voters to protect abortion rights until the viability of the fetus. Under a law passed last year, abortion is prohibited after 12 weeks, with some exceptions.

Nevada

Signatures are being collected to place an abortion access amendment on Nevada’s November ballot. According to the amendment, access to abortion during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy or later to protect the health of the pregnant person, which is already guaranteed under a 1990 law, would be enshrined in the constitution. More than 102,000 valid signatures are needed by June 26 to place the measure on the ballot. Voters would have to approve it in both 2024 and 2026 to amend 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 trying to gather more than 17,500 signatures by May 7 to get a measure on the ballot that would loosen restrictions but not go as far as many abortion rights advocates would like. It would ban all restrictions on abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy, allow restrictions in the second trimester except for the woman’s physical health, and allow abortion bans in the third trimester. Planned Parenthood does not support the measure.

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

Which states can put abortion on the ballot but are unlikely to?

There are some states where the balance of power or other circumstances mean that abortion-related measures seeking bans or restrictions are unlikely to reach voters in 2024 in most cases.

Iowa

To bring a constitutional amendment to a vote, Iowa lawmakers must approve it in two consecutive sessions. In 2021, both chambers introduced a resolution stating that there is no constitutional right to abortion in the state. Republicans control the Legislature and the governor’s office, but the amendment has not become a priority this year and the administration has not done so. Kim Reynolds has said she will let the issue go through the courts rather than push for a vote. Abortion is currently prohibited from 20 weeks of pregnancy. A stricter ban, which would come into effect once heart activity can be detected, about six weeks, has been passed but suspended by a court.

Maine

Democrats are calling for a measure to expand abortion rights in the state constitution. But they wouldn’t have the required two-thirds majority of lawmakers in each legislative chamber to pass it and send it to voters without the support of several Republican lawmakers. Abortion is allowed during pregnancy.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has a similar process as Iowa, with a similar amendment not to consider a constitutional right to abortion. Lawmakers passed it in 2022. But Democrats have since taken control of the statehouse, making it unlikely to pass, which is necessary before a statewide referendum can take place. Abortion is now legal in Pennsylvania up to 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Assembly in January approved calls for a binding statewide referendum on a law banning abortions after 14 weeks of pregnancy. Even if the Senate passes it, the Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has promised to veto it. Abortion is legal within the first twenty weeks of pregnancy.

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