The states where abortion rights go straight to the vote in November

WASHINGTON — Abortion rights have emerged as one of the most important issues motivating voters this election cycle after the Supreme Court rolled back the constitutional law right to abortionand in some states, issues that will decide the future of abortion access will be on the ballot next month.

The November elections will decide which party controls the House and Senate and gets seats in the Senate Arizona, Georgia and PennsylvaniaVoters who rank the issue as very important favor Democratic candidates over their Republican opponents, recent polls conducted by CBS News showed.

But in five other states, the issue of abortion will be squarely in front of voters when they go to the polls in November, and they will not only cast their ballots for federal and state offices, but also weigh electoral initiatives designed to protect both the right to abortion or restricted access.

Amendments to state constitutions to either enshrine or restrict access to abortion limit the ability of state legislatures to pass new abortion measures, and although some state courts have interpreted state constitutions to include the right to abortion protect abortion, these decisions can be overturned. However, constitutional amendments would explicitly state that the respective state constitutions protect – or do not protect – the right to abortion.

Kansas was the first state to put the issue of abortion rights before voters after the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade when he included in the ballot for the August primary a constitutional amendment that removes abortion rights from the Kansas Constitution.

voters in the state rejected the initiative and preserved the state’s protection of the Constitution, a significant victory for abortion rights advocates who are campaigning to protect abortion access nationwide.

In November, voters in three states — California, Michigan and Vermont — will decide whether to enshrine abortion rights in their respective state constitutions, while two others — Kentucky and Montana — will have ballot proposals aimed at curtailing abortion rights.


The measure, known as Proposition 1, if approved, would amend the California Constitution to include the right to reproductive freedom, which includes the right to choose an abortion and the right to contraceptives.

If voters approve, a new section will be added to the state constitution that states: “The state shall not deny or interfere with a person’s reproductive freedom in the most intimate decisions that violate his or her fundamental right to the choice to have an abortion and her Right includes fundamental right to choose or refuse contraceptives.”

But even if the initiative is rejected by voters, abortion will remain legal in California. The country’s highest court has recognized the right to abortion in the state constitution since 1969, and abortion is protected by state law.


Michigan’s ballot initiative, Proposition 3, proposes amending the state constitution to establish a new individual right to “reproductive liberty.” The action would include:

Establish the right to make and carry out all decisions related to pregnancy, including prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, contraception, abortion and infertility; Allow the state to regulate abortion based on the viability of the fetus, generally between 22 and 24 weeks gestation, but do not prohibit abortion when it is medically necessary to save a patient’s life or physical or mental health to protect to reproductive freedom or a person assisting a pregnant woman; Invalidating existing state laws that conflict with the constitutional amendment

The Reproductive Freedom for All campaign led the signature campaign to get the initiative for the November vote, but Michigan’s four-member Board of Advertising stuck in August about the start of the measure. The two Democrats on the board voted in favor, while the two Republicans opposed putting the proposed constitutional amendment to a vote.

The Campaign for Reproductive Freedom for All then appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court, which ordered in September that the initiative be allowed to vote in November.

While Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, supports abortion rights, the state has a 1931 law on its books that makes performing an abortion a crime in most cases. The ban lay dormant for almost 50 years after the Supreme Court established the constitutional right to abortion in 1973, but the Supreme Court overruled his Roe decision in June, paving the way for the 1931 state abortion law to go into effect.

Although Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel vowed not to enforce the ban before the Roe, Planned Parenthood of Michigan and an abortion provider in the state filed a lawsuit in April, arguing the 1931 statute was unconstitutional and violated the law constitution of the state.

In September, a state judge invalid the 90-year-old ban and finds it violates the Michigan Constitution.


Vermont is proposing an amendment to the state constitution that would establish the right to “personal reproductive autonomy.”

The initiative, dubbed Article 22, states that “a person’s right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the freedom and dignity to direct his or her course of life and may not be denied or violated except where required by a compelling state interest to be achieved by the least restrictive means.”

Abortion has remained legal in Vermont since the state legislature passed and the governor signed legislation in 2019 that preserved abortion rights and prohibited the state from interfering with or restricting a person’s choice to terminate a pregnancy. The state legislature also approved Proposition 5 that year, beginning the process of amending the state constitution to protect access to abortion.

Both chambers of the state parliament approved the proposal again this year, paving the way for the election initiative to be presented to voters next month.


Kentucky voters will decide in November whether to amend the state constitution to say it does not protect abortion rights and to ban state funding for abortion.

Amendment 2 asks voters whether they would prefer the Kentucky Constitution to be amended to create a new section that states that “In order to protect human life, nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to secure a right to abortion or protects or requires the financing of abortion”.

The Republican-controlled Kentucky General Assembly approved a measure in 2021 to bring the proposed constitutional amendment to voters. The state legislature also passed a “trigger” law banning nearly all abortions in the state in the event of Roe reversal, as well as a law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

Abortion clinics challenged both restrictions, and in July a state court judge prevented the state from enforcing the two measures, finding they likely violate the rights to privacy and self-determination protected by the Kentucky Constitution.

But an appeals court in Kentucky reinstated the ban on abortionmaking most abortions illegal in the state for now.


Montana voters will vote on a legislative referendum that will pass the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act, which legalizes infants born alive, even after an abortion. The bill also imposes criminal penalties on healthcare providers who fail to take “medically appropriate and reasonable action” to save the lives of these infants.

The measure states that a live-born infant is one “who is breathing, has a beating heart, or has definite movement of voluntary muscles after the mother has been completely expelled or extracted.” The proposal also states that a “liveborn infant is entitled to medically appropriate care and treatment”.

If passed by voters, the law would go into effect Jan. 1, and medical providers found guilty of violating the measure would face a fine of up to $50,000 or up to 20 years face jail.

Montana law allows abortions until the fetus is viable, and the state Supreme Court ruled in 1999 that the Montana Constitution’s right to privacy includes a right to “reproductive autonomy” that protects the right to an abortion.

State legislatures enacted numerous abortion restrictions in 2021, including a 20-week abortion ban, restrictions on medical abortions, and an ultrasound requirement. However, the Montana Supreme Court in August upheld a lower court ruling temporarily blocking the three restrictions while the trial continues.

A 2016 analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention examining infant deaths for the 12-year period from 2003 to 2014 where the death certificate mentions the abortion code found that 143 “definitely could be classified as an abortion”.

The terms given on death certificates, which refer to an induced termination of pregnancy, range from termination of pregnancy for maternal reasons to attempted termination of pregnancy and termination of pregnancy.

Additionally, there are existing federal and state laws that would protect infants once they are born and are likely to apply to medical providers who refuse to provide care.

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