2022 will feature the most abortion-related ballot measures on record; next states to watch for abortion measures are Michigan and Colorado

There will be at least five abortion-related ballot measures in 2022, including the first two ballot measures to provide explicit state constitutional rights related to abortion. On June 27, the California State Legislature passed a constitutional amendment, bringing the total to five – the most on record for a single year. Before 2022, the highest number was four measures in 1986. Since 1970, voters have decided on 47 abortion-related ballot measures. 

The next signature deadlines to watch are July 11 in Michigan and August 8 in Colorado, where campaigns are collecting signatures for abortion-related ballot measures. On July 7, an initiative campaign in Arizona did not submit signatures.

Of the five measures on the ballot, two are related to providing constitutional rights, two are related to how constitutional language can be interpreted regarding abortion, and one is related to practitioner requirements. The following are summaries of the certified ballot measures:

California: Proposition 1 would provide that the state cannot “deny or interfere with an individual’s reproductive freedom in their most intimate decisions,” including decisions to have an abortion or to choose or refuse contraceptives. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), Senate President Toni Atkins (D-39), and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-63) called for the amendment on May 2, following the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Center draft opinion being leaked.

Kansas: On the ballot for August 2, the measure would amend the Kansas Constitution to state that nothing in the state constitution creates a right to abortion or requires government funding for abortions. The amendment would also declare that the legislature has the power to pass laws regarding abortion. Sponsors introduced the amendment in response to the Kansas Supreme Court’s ruling in Hodes & Nauser v. Schmidt (2019), which held that the Kansas Bill of Rights provided a right to an abortion.

Kentucky: Like the proposal in Kansas, the measure would amend the Kentucky Constitution to state that nothing in the state constitution creates a right to abortion or requires government funding for abortions. Unlike Kansas, there has not been a state court ruling providing for a state constitutional right to abortion. On June 27, the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and others filed a lawsuit to block the state from enforcing two statutes prohibiting or restricting abortion. Plaintiffs are arguing that the Kentucky Constitution “protects the right of a pregnant individual to access abortion.”

Montana: LR-131 would provide in state law that infants born alive at any stage of development are legal persons. The ballot measure would also require medical care to be provided to infants born alive after an induced labor, cesarean section, attempted abortion, or another method.

Vermont: Proposal 5 would amend the Vermont Constitution to provide that “an individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the liberty and dignity to determine one’s own life course.” The process to get Proposal 5 on the ballot started in 2019. Eileen Sullivan, communications director for the Planned Parenthood Vermont Action Fund, said, “Justice [Anthony] Kennedy’s retirement prompted action in Vermont, so that these rights in Vermont would be protected no matter what happens in Washington, D.C.”

There could be two more citizen-initiated ballot measures—one in Colorado, and one in Michigan—related to abortion this year: 

Colorado: The initiative would prohibit abortion in Colorado, where the procedure is currently legal. Colorado Life Initiative, which is backing the proposal, reported collecting three-quarters of the required signatures on June 20. At least 124,632 signatures are required. The deadline is August 8.

Michigan: The initiative would add a provision to the state constitution that says, “Every individual has a fundamental right to reproductive freedom,” including a right to abortion. Reproductive Freedom for All, the campaign supporting the initiative, reported that about 800,000 had been collected. Signatures are due on July 11. At least 425,059 need to be valid.

There were several citizen-initiated measures and legislative proposals that did not make the ballot. In Arizona, a campaign filed an initiative to provide, in the Arizona Constitution, that “Every individual has a fundamental right to reproductive freedom.” The campaign launched on May 16, giving supporters 61 days to collect 356,467 valid signatures. Signatures were due on July 7, and the campaign reported gathering 175,000.

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