On the Ballot — Five States with Abortion Measures on the Ballot in November

Voters in Michigan, Kentucky, California, Vermont, and Montana will vote on ballot measures in the November midterms, deciding on the future of abortion access in their states. 

All five states have proposed initiatives on their ballots that either restrict or codify abortion rights. The issue has become increasingly divisive following the June ruling of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, which eliminated the federal right to the procedure. 

While many Democrat candidates have come forward to support measures that would protect access to abortion, arguing that Republicans would pass a federal abortion ban if the party regains majority control in the Senate and House of Representatives.

In the meantime, several states have already made moves to expand or restrict abortion access. Kansas voters were the first to vote on a ballot measure since the SCOTUS ruling, and rejected a ballot amendment that would remove the right to an abortion from the state constitution in August.

If Vermont, Michigan, and/or California pass initiatives on their ballots, they will become the first state(s) to have abortions enshrined in their state constitution(s).

California

California voters will vote on Proposition 1, which would amend the state’s constitution and preserve the right to an abortion. 

“The state shall not deny or interfere with an individual’s reproductive freedom in their most intimate decisions, which includes their fundamental right to choose to have an abortion and their fundamental right to choose or refuse contraceptives,” the constitution’s new section will read if approved.

If a “no” vote prevails, the state constitution will not be changed, but the rights to reproductive freedom will still be protected under state law.

Kentucky

Kentucky voters will cast their ballots on Republican-backed Amendment 2, which aims to make an amendment to the state constitution and specify that it doesn’t “secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.”

According to Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams, “Amendment Two, if passed, will prevent Kentucky courts from issuing their own Roe v. Wade.” If passed, the amendment will go into effect immediately. There will be no action taken if a “no” vote wins.

Vermont

A Vermont initiative aims to codify the right to make reproductive decisions by adding a state constitutional amendment. The initiative, The Vermont Right to Personal Reproductive Autonomy Amendment would amend the state’s constitution to include language that will enshrine the right to uninfringed personal reproductive liberty “achieved by the least restrictive means” unless there is a compelling state interest.

There is already a law on the books in Vermont recognizing the right to abortion since 2019, when the legislature began amendments to the constitution. Currently, abortion is legal at all stages of pregnancy in the state. 

If Vermonters vote “no,” the amendment will not be added to the state’s constitution.

Michigan

Voters in Michigan will consider Proposal 3, which supporters say would protect abortion access by codifying new broad individual rights to “reproductive freedom” in the state constitution. According to the proposal’s text, the Michigan amendment would “make and effectuate decisions about all matters relating to pregnancy, including but not limited to prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, contraception, sterilization, abortion care, miscarriage management, and infertility care.”

Abortion is legal in Michigan until ‘viability.’ A “no” vote would oppose adding the amendment. 

Montana

Voters in Montana can vote on Legislative Referendum 131, which would require doctors to perform lifesaving care on babies “born alive,” including after an abortion. 

If passed, the measure would establish that infants “born alive” at any stage of development are entitled to medical treatment and are legal persons. Also known as the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act, it would impose criminal penalties on healthcare providers who don’t take “necessary actions” to preserve human life, including up to 20 years in prison and/or a $50,000 fine.

In Montana, abortion is currently legal until viability, as three abortion laws are held up in courts.