Three More States Put Abortion on the 2024 Ballot

By FOCUS, A Leonine Business

After the overturning of Roe v. Wade in 2022, abortion rights shot to the top to become one of the most salient issues in the country, with the most significant developments emerging at the state level. Earlier this month, abortion rights groups in Arizona, Arkansas and Nebraska have successfully gathered enough signatures to place measures on the November ballot that would enshrine some level of abortion access in their state constitutions. Groups in Missouri and Montana have also collected sufficient signatures to put measures before voters in the fall. If the signatures in these states are verified, as many as 11 states could have abortion rights on the ballot this November. These states also include Florida, Colorado, Maryland, Nevada, New York and South Dakota.

Currently, 21 states restrict abortion earlier than the standard set by Roe v. Wade. Since the landmark decision was overturned, 14 states have made abortion illegal, including Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia. In addition to these, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina have implemented bans after six weeks of pregnancy, while Nebraska and North Carolina have imposed bans after 12 weeks. Arizona restricts abortion after 15 weeks and Utah has a ban after 18 weeks.

Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe, every state that has put the question of abortion rights directly to voters has seen the abortion rights side emerge victorious. Ohio voters enshrined abortion protections in their state constitution in 2023, with the measure passing by 57 percent of the vote. In 2022, Michigan and Vermont voters also approved constitutional abortion protections, with Michigan passing the measure by 56 percent and Vermont by a decisive 77 percent. On the judicial side, courts in eight states have ruled that abortion is protected under their state constitutions. These states include Alaska, California, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey and Wisconsin.

Ballot approval, however, is not guaranteed for every state in November. Arkansas, for instance, is one of the few states where a minority of voters support abortion access. It also enforces one of the strictest abortion bans in the country, with no reported abortions in the state in 2023. In an attempt to appeal to the state’s more conservative nature, the group leading the ballot measure effort proposed an amendment that protects abortion up to 18 weeks, rather than the 24 weeks most measures are seeking.

As the nation continues to grapple with the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the battle for abortion rights has shifted to the state level. With up to 11 states considering ballot measures in November, the landscape of abortion access remains in flux. While some states move to enshrine protections, others enforce stricter bans, underscoring the polarized and dynamic nature of this critical issue. FOCUS will continue to monitor abortion ballot measures in our annual election reports, published in the fall.