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In June 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade and 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decisions. The battle over abortion was returned to the people.

Since that 2022 decision, voters in California, Michigan, Vermont, and most recently Ohio, have amended their state constitutions making abortion a “fundamental right” in their states. On the other hand, in 2018, voters in Alabama, Louisiana, and West Virginia also amended their constitutions in favor of protecting unborn life. The people of Alabama guaranteed a right to life for the unborn and both the people of Louisiana and West Virginia declared there was no right to abortion in their states.

Now, citizens and state legislators in other states are turning to their own state constitutions to decide the issue. In 2024, at least 13 states have citizen-led or legislative efforts underway to amend their state constitutions regarding abortion. These ballot initiatives vary in scope and intent. Eleven states, which include Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, and South Dakota, have ballot initiatives that are attempting to codify abortion access or enshrine abortion as a state constitutional right.

Currently, only in Maryland is there an initiative that has secured a place on the ballot. In 2023, Maryland lawmakers sponsored a proposed state constitutional amendment and voted to put it on the 2024 ballot. If approved by voters, the amendment would grant a “fundamental right to reproductive freedom” and enshrine the right to abortion in the state. Maryland already allows abortion up to viability.

Another initiative close to getting on the ballot is in Florida. On April 1, 2024, the Florida Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that a deceptive proposal to codify unrestricted abortion in the state constitution could go before voters this November. This ballot initiative is a citizen-led effort which began as a signature petition, which still requires the signatures to be verified by the state’s certifying authority. While not officially on the ballot yet, the initiative aims to establish a constitutional right to abortion before fetal viability in Florida and dictate that no law shall prohibit, penalize, delay, or restrict abortion.

In their dissents, three Florida Supreme Court justices correctly argued that the proposed amendment “misleads” voters and “fails” to convey the far-reaching legal consequences if voted into law. The justice’s stated the amendment misleads voters by “ending (as opposed to ‘limiting’) legislative and executive action on abortion;” the “ambiguous” terms have no shared meaning setting the stage for protracted litigation; and ignores personhood and poses a “devastating infringement” on a person’s right to live. If the proposed amendment gets on the ballot, it will require a supermajority of 60 percent voting “yes” to amend the state constitution.

Initiatives in only four states, which include Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania, are attempting to guarantee the right to life for unborn babies or declare no right to abortion. Notably, both Colorado and Nebraska have two separate and opposing efforts on abortion. In Nebraska, one amendment would provide a “fundamental right to abortion without interference from the state” until fetal viability while the other would protect unborn children from abortion after the first trimester. In Colorado, the “Equal Protection of Every Living Child” amendment would define a “living human child” as a human being beginning at the moment of conception and prohibit the intentional harm of that child in the womb, while a Right to Abortion initiative would codify abortion rights and health insurance coverage for abortion. Both Iowa and Pennsylvania initiatives would declare their state constitutions do not provide a right to abortion or a right to public funding for abortion.

Out of the 13 states, nine states involve citizen-led efforts that still require gathering or certifying enough signatures before getting on the ballot. Each of these initiatives have varying deadlines ranging between May to August 2024.

For the remaining four states, Maryland already has abortion on the ballot while Iowa, Maine, and Pennsylvania have initiatives that are sponsored by the legislatures which still need to hold a vote. These amendments face significant hurdles. For instance, both Iowa and Pennsylvania initiatives need to pass in both the House and the Senate in two successive legislative sessions before being placed on the ballot for voters. Both initiatives passed in the 2021-2022 sessions and would need to pass again this year to get on the ballot. In Maine, a proposed amendment to enshrine a constitutional right to “personal reproductive autonomy” needs a two-thirds majority vote in the legislature to place it on the ballot.

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Staver stated, “The right to kill a child should never be up to popular vote. The right to life is an inalienable right that come from God, not government. All human life is sacred. Human life begins at the moment of fertilization.”

For more information about the 13 states with proposed constitutional amendments regarding abortion, visit Liberty Counsel’s website here.


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