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Advocates Push for Abortion Referendums in 12 States Following Ohio Vote

Ohio voters recently approved a constitutional amendment protecting the right to abortion and other forms of reproductive healthcare. Advocates on both sides of the issue are now exploring how they can gain support for similar measures on 2024 ballots in at least twelve states.

All seven states that have held a statewide vote since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that had protected abortion rights nationally, have backed access to abortion. This includes Ohio, where voters enshrined abortion access in the state constitution on Tuesday.

Constitutional amendments to protect access are already on the ballots for 2024 in Maryland and New York. Questions are being considered for several other states – some to protect access and some to limit or ban it.

Here’s what’s happening in the states.

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ARIZONA

Abortion access advocates want to amend the state constitution to protect access to abortion until the fetus is viable, generally considered to be around 24 weeks gestational age or later, to protect the life or physical or mental health of the woman.

Supporters have until July 3 to collect nearly 384,000 valid signatures to get the measure on the ballot. Abortion is currently banned after 15 weeks of pregnancy, but the Democratic governor signed an executive order in June that bars county prosecutors from bringing abortion-related cases.

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COLORADO

Colorado has dueling efforts – one from abortion rights advocates and one from opponents. Neither side has settled on specific language, but abortion rights advocates want a constitutional amendment that would keep the state from banning abortion and would overturn a 1984 amendment that let the government prohibit insurance coverage for abortion. Opponents want to ban abortion throughout pregnancy. Both sides have until Aug. 5 to gather more than 124,000 signatures. Any measure would need at least 55% of votes to pass.

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FLORIDA

Abortion rights advocates back a constitutional amendment to reverse laws restricting abortion. Abortion in Florida is now banned at 15 weeks, based on a law that went into effect last year with Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signature. DeSantis also signed into law a measure to ban abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. The proposed amendment would undo both bans and require that abortion be available until fetal viability, around 24 weeks. To get it on the ballot, supporters are required to gather nearly 900,000 signatures by Feb. 1.

Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody has asked the state Supreme Court to keep the question off the ballot, arguing that “viability” is too vague. The amendment would need 60% of votes to pass.

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IOWA

Both chambers of the Republican-controlled legislature have approved an amendment that would declare that there’s no right to abortion in the state constitution. Now it needs final approval in the 2023-24 term to go before voters. This has been at the heart of legal battles already in Iowa. The state Supreme Court in 2019 upheld a lower court decision that there is a right to abortion in the state constitution. But in 2022, after membership of the court changed, the court reversed itself. During a special session in July, Republicans passed a new law to ban abortion after cardiac activity can be detected – about six weeks into pregnancy and before women often realize they’re pregnant. It was in effect for a few days before a court put enforcement on hold.

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Other states like MARYLAND, MISSOURI, NEBRASKA, NEVADA, NEW YORK, PENNSYLVANIA, and SOUTH DAKOTA are also part of the proposed amendments to protect or restrict access to abortion. The measures are awaiting signatures and final approval to be put on the 2024 ballot for consideration by voters.

Associated Press reporters from around the U.S. contributed to this article.



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