Source: CNN

This November, many voters across the country could take to the polls to determine the future of abortion access in their state, with organizers working to secure a wave of measures on the 2024 ballot aimed at restoring or protecting the right to an abortion – and a few aimed at restricting it.

Abortion rights advocates hope the effort will restore the issue of reproductive health access to the people, after the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022, eliminating the national right to an abortion.

Most of the proposed ballot measures aim to enshrine the right to an abortion in state constitutions. They follow a series of restrictive trigger laws that went into effect following the Dobbs decision, along with abortion policies that were handed down by politicians or decided by state supreme courts since the decision. Some are up against a handful of counter measures aimed at restricting abortion access, though similar restrictive measures have failed in the few states where votes have been held in the past couple of years.

Abortion measures on the ballot in November

Several states — Colorado, Florida, Maryland and South Dakota — have already secured abortion measures on the 2024 ballot. All eyes are on Florida, which has served as a critical access point for people seeking services in a region of the country that is fast becoming an abortion care desert. A six-week abortion ban replaced the state’s 15-week ban on May 1.

New York previously secured the New York Equal Rights Amendment measure on its November ballot, which would amend the state’s constitution to say that a person’s rights cannot be denied due to “pregnancy, pregnancy outcomes, and reproductive healthcare and autonomy.” The measure, which also seeks to protect against discrimination based on race, disability, gender identity and more, was recently struck from the ballot by a state judge — a decision that state Attorney General Letitia James has appealed.

States with potential abortion ballot measures

Organizers in other states across the country are working to secure funding, gather signatures and jump through the legal hoops necessary to secure abortion measures on the 2024 ballot.

In most states, the process entails collecting a certain number of signatures by a designated deadline this summer, while others require the additional step of having the ballot language approved by a state court, according to campaign organizers. The abortion rights measures are largely backed by coalitions of reproductive health advocates, many of which are fundraising to secure the money to support the campaigns.

Arizona, Nevada and Montana have all seen proposed measures protecting abortion access up to the point of viability, which doctors say is around 24 weeks into pregnancy. A potential measure in Arkansas would allow abortion up to 20 weeks into pregnancy or in cases of rape, incest or fatal fetal anomalies.

A potential measure in Missouri that seeks to broadly protect reproductive care could still make the ballot in November. An opposing measure to permanently ban abortion, however, never made it out of the state’s legislative session.

A number of potential measures, like those in Nevada and Montana, allow for abortion past the point of viability when deemed necessary by a doctor to protect a pregnant person’s life or health — though doctors and lawmakers have struggled to define exactly what type of medical emergencies would be allowed under the exception.

A proposed measure to restrict abortion access in Pennsylvania seeks to establish that public funding can’t be used for the procedure, though it is unlikely to pass the state legislature.

States that have voted on abortion post-Dobbs

Seven states have already seen a vote on abortion access since Roe v. Wade was overturned, and reproductive health advocates have been heartened by the overwhelming support for abortion access among voters. Every measure aimed at protecting abortion access has passed, while all measures to restrict it have failed.

While support for abortion access is considered a given in states like California, organizers say these votes offer an important layer of legal protection for patients and providers – and send a message to elected officials about what voters want.

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