These 5 states could have abortion on the ballot in 2024



Deadlines are coming up between now and July 5 in five states where advocates are trying to gather enough voters’ signatures to put abortion-related questions on ballots in November’s elections.

Measures that would enshrine the right to abortion in state constitutions are already on the ballot in four states, and officials in two more are checking whether the petitions submitted there are valid. Additionally, New York’s attorney general is trying to get a question reinstated after a court removed it.

The push continues after the Supreme Court’s June 13 abortion ruling denying on technical grounds an effort to roll back the federal approval for mifepristone, a drug used for medication abortions. But abortion rights supporters are cautioning against that ruling instilling too much confidence because it’s possible a similar lawsuit brought by someone else could succeed.

It adds up to an election season in which abortion rights will be a major issue, directly and in races for candidates for state and federal office.

The fate of the measures could reshape or confirm the trendlines that have developed in the nearly two years since the U.S. Supreme Court removed the nationwide right to abortion.

Since the court’s 2022 ruling, most Republican-controlled states have new abortion restrictions in effect, including 14 banning it at every stage of pregnancy. Most Democratic-led states have laws or executive orders to protect access.

Voters in seven states — California, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, Ohio and Vermont — have sided with abortion rights supporters on ballot measures since 2022.

Some efforts that sought to restrict or ban abortion also have 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 there is 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, one in Maine effectively died when it fell short of receiving the approval of two-thirds of the House and a Minnesota measure was not passed by lawmakers.

What’s now on 2024 ballots?

Colorado

Colorado’s top election official confirmed in May that a measure to enshrine abortion protections in the state constitution, including requirements that Medicaid and private health insurers cover it, made the ballot for the fall election.

Supporters said they gathered more than 225,000 signatures, nearly double the requirement of over 124,000 signatures. 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.

Florida

The state Supreme Court ruled in April that a ballot measure to legalize abortion until fetal viability could go on the ballot despite a legal challenge from state Attorney General Ashley Moody, who argued 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.

To take effect, the measure would need agreement from 60% of voters.

Abortion is currently illegal in Florida after the first six weeks of pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant, under a law that took effect 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.

South Dakota

South Dakota voters will decide this fall on a measure that 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.

The state’s top election official announced May 16 that about 85% of the more than 55,000 signatures submitted in support of the ballot initiative are valid, exceeding the required 35,017 signatures.

Opponents still have until Monday to file a challenge with the secretary of state’s office.

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.

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.

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.

Local election officials have until July 30 to verify the signatures, then it’s up to the secretary of state to declare whether there were enough.

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 afterward.

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 in April wrote its version of the language that would appear on the ballot if supporters gather more than 60,000 signatures by Friday.

Abortion is legal until viability in Montana under a 1999 state Supreme Court opinion.

Nebraska

Advocates are trying to collect about 123,000 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.

A third effort for a measure that would ban abortion throughout pregnancy has struggled to raise money and is not expected to gather enough signatures to make the ballot.

Nevada

Organizers in May said they turned in almost twice as many signatures as needed to put an abortion rights measure 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 ensured under a 1990 law. More than 102,000 valid signatures are required to place the measure on the ballot, and organizers said they submitted more than 200,000. Now, county election officials must verify signatures.

To change the constitution, voters would need to approve it in both 2024 and 2026.

New York

A judge in May 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.

—Geoff Mulvihill and Kimberlee Kruesi, Associated Press



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