Updated May 3rd, 2024 at 21:31 IST

US Polls 2024: A Look at States that Could Have Abortion on the Ballot

Following the repeal of Roe v Wade by the US Supreme Court in 2022, abortion has become a major poll issue in American politics.

Abortion became a major political issue in the US after the Supreme Court repealed Roe v Wade in 2022. | Image:AP
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South Dakota advocates submitted petitions Wednesday in their effort to amend the state constitution to include the right to abortion, at least under some circumstances. Signatures are also expected to be turned in Friday in Missouri for a ballot measure there.

The efforts in both states are part of a movement to put abortion rights questions to voters since the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade and removed the nationwide right to abortion.

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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.

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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 the process in some states.

Some of the efforts have already failed to reach ballots. Wisconsin's legislative session ended without a state Senate vote on a measure that the House approved to ask voters to ban abortion after 14 weeks.

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Iowa lawmakers did not approve a measure before their session ended this year to ask 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 there 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.

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What's securely on 2024 ballots?

Florida 

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The state Supreme Court ruled on April 1 that a ballot measure to legalise 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 legalise abortion until viability on the ballot, surpassing the nearly 892,000 required. Sixty per cent of voters would have to agree for it to take effect.

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

Maryland

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. But on Thursday, the governor signed a bill repealing that law, which is still expected to be in effect for a time.

Arkansas

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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 November 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.

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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

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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 support of 55 per cent of voters.

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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.

Missouri

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Missouri advocates for abortion access are expected to turn in signatures on Friday, two days ahead of their deadline to submit more than 171,000 to ask voters to approve a constitutional amendment to guarantee abortion until viability.

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

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

Montana

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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.

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

Nebraska

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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 that mirrors a law adopted last year that bans abortion after 12 weeks, with some exceptions.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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Published May 3rd, 2024 at 21:31 IST