US abortion advocates claim victory in state ballot measures News
© WikiMedia (Larissa Puro)
US abortion advocates claim victory in state ballot measures

US voters in California, Michigan, Kentucky and Vermont Tuesday voted in favor of abortion rights in four state ballot measures. Results from Montana’s vote remain inconclusive, but abortion advocates are poised to win. In June, the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade with Dobbs v. Jackson Women Health Organization and ruled there is no constitutional right to abortion at the federal level. The decision left each state to decide its own abortions law.

In California, voters affirmed Proposition 1 and decided to expressly “include existing rights to reproductive freedom—such as the right to choose whether or not to have an abortion and use contraceptives” in the California Constitution. Abortion is legal in California, and Governor Gavin Newsom, who won reelection on Tuesday, has passed several laws to further protect abortion access in the state.

Michiganers voted in favor of Proposal 3 to “establish [a] new individual right to reproductive freedom, including [the] right to make all decisions about pregnancy and abortion; allow [the] state to regulate abortion in some cases; and forbid prosecution of individuals exercising [this] established right.” In Wednesday’s early hours, the ACLU of Michigan announced victory in the vote and thanked voters for making “Michigan the first state in the nation to pass an affirmative citizen-led constitutional amendment that guarantees the right to abortion.” Abortion is currently legal in Michigan after Governor Gretchen Whitmer won a preliminary injunction against the state’s abortion ban in August. Whitmer also secured another term as governor on Tuesday.

Kentucky voters rejected Constitutional Amendment 3, a proposed revision to the state constitution reading, “nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.” Although abortion remains illegal in Kentucky at this time, the ACLU and other organizations are in the process of challenging the bans in court and have asked for a temporary injunction while the lawsuits play out. Shortly before midnight on election day, The ACLU and the ACLU of Kentucky announced a victory for abortion rights, but outlets like the Associated Press have yet to call the vote.

Vermont voters chose overwhelmingly to accept Proposal 5 and include language in the state constitution “that an individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the liberty and dignity to determine one’s own life course and shall not be denied or infringed unless justified by a compelling State interest achieved by the least restrictive means.”

If accepted by Montana voters, LR-131 would adopt “the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act; providing that infants born alive, including infants born alive after an abortion, are legal persons.” The vote is currently too close to call, but Montana’s Secretary of State shows the “no” camp ahead. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommended a “no” vote on LR-131, saying the measure “would require an aggressive course of treatment in extremely complex and often tragic medical situations. It is based on inflammatory language and inaccurate descriptions of doctors, the patients they care for, and the complex and tragic circumstances families face.” Due to an August ruling by the Montana Supreme Court, abortion is currently legal in Montana.

Tuesday’s results mirror national trends. A March poll by Pew Research concluded that 61 percent of American adults believe abortion should be legal in “most or all cases.” In August, voters in Kansas turned out in record numbers to vote against a provision that would have removed abortion protections from the Kansas Constitution.