Beyond Florida, It’s Been a Big Week for Abortion Rights Ballot Measures

The Montana Supreme Court issued a ruling; Arizona organizers say they've collected enough signatures; and Missouri organizers got a surprise celebrity assist.

Beyond Florida, It’s Been a Big Week for Abortion Rights Ballot Measures
Protesters outside the U.S. Supreme Court on March 26. Photo: Shutterstock

On Monday, the Florida state Supreme Court issued a wildly bittersweet ruling, allowing the state’s six-week abortion ban to take effect—effectively decimating abortion access across the South—but also allowing Floridians to vote on a ballot measure to enshrine a right to abortion this November. And as you’ll recall, a handful of other states have been trying to get their own abortion rights measures on the ballot this year, and there’s been movement in these states this week as well.

Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, multiple states have voted directly on abortion, and from Kansas to Ohio, these efforts have been universally successful. Consequently, anti-abortion government officials have been doing everything they can to stop these measures from moving forward. As states including Montana, Arizona, Missouri, and others race to get their proposed abortion measures on the ballot, they’ve been up against barrier after barrier.


This week, Montana organizers are one step closer to being able to collect signatures to put their abortion rights measure on the ballot this November. In Montana, abortion is currently legal until the fetus is viable (which, itself, is a highly arbitrary marker that varies per pregnancy), but organizers are trying to formally enshrine a right to abortion in the state Constitution.

On Monday, the state Supreme Court rejected a highly politicized, inaccurate summary of the measure that would appear on ballots, written by the state’s anti-abortion, Republican attorney general, Austin Knudsen. In Knudsen’s summary, he claimed the measure “amends the Montana Constitution to allow post-viability abortions up to birth” (an inaccurate, increasingly popular fearmongering framing from anti-abortion politicians fighting ballot measures); “leaves ‘fetal viability’ and ‘extraordinary medical measures’ to the subjective judgment of an abortion provider rather than objective legal or medical standards;” and “may increase the number of taxpayer-funded abortions.”

The state Supreme Court wrote its own summary of the proposed measure as it would appear on ballots, stating that the measure would “amend the Montana Constitution to expressly provide a right to make and carry out decisions about one’s own pregnancy, including the right to abortion,” and “prohibit the government from denying or burdening the right to abortion before fetal viability.”

“It would also prohibit the government from denying or burdening access to an abortion when a treating healthcare professional determines it is medically indicated to protect the pregnant patient’s life or health,” the summary states, and “[prevent] the government from penalizing patients, healthcare providers, or anyone who assists someone in exercising their right to make and carry out voluntary decisions about their pregnancy.”

But now, there’s disagreement between Montana abortion rights organizers on whether they can move forward with collecting signatures to get on the ballot—or whether the proposed measure, with the state Supreme Court’s summary, still requires approval from the legislature. The ruling marks a step forward, but complications remain as organizers race to get enough signatures—and potential approval from the legislature—to qualify by June 1.



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In Maine, where abortion remains legal, Democratic lawmakers are trying to put abortion directly on the ballot. But this requires the legislature to pass a resolution with a two-thirds majority. On Monday, the Maine state Senate came up short: In a 20-13 vote across party lines, lawmakers supported the resolution but fell short of the 24 votes needed to put forth a constitutional amendment to the electorate. Two Democratic senators were absent. There will be another vote but barring several Republican senators changing their minds, the effort is unlikely to be successful, Maine’s Portland Press Herald notes.

Democratic lawmakers’ proposal would establish a constitutional amendment “to protect reproductive autonomy,” including abortion and other fertility care. Republicans opposing the proposal say it’s too broad and “unintended issues may arise when this comes to be argued in courts,” per Senate Minority Leader Lisa Keim. 

While there is no abortion ban in Maine, this is an unfortunate development. In our post-Roe legal landscape, there’s no such thing as establishing enough protections for reproductive rights, anywhere.


For weeks now, anti-abortion activists across Arizona have been deploying truly jarring tactics to obstruct abortion rights organizers’ efforts to collect signatures and put an abortion rights measure on the November ballot. These efforts have included stalking, harassing, and recording organizers as they try to collect signatures. But, thankfully, none of that seems to have been effective. On Tuesday, Arizona for Abortion Access—a coalition of reproductive rights groups including the ACLU of Arizona and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona—announced that they’ve collected 506,892 signatures, surpassing the amount needed to get on the ballot with more than three months remaining before the deadline. The threshold sits at 383,923, though some signatures are usually rejected as part of the verification process.

In either case, it looks like despite anti-abortion activists’ best and truly disgraceful tactics, Arizona—which currently bans abortion at about 15 weeks—will probably be voting on abortion this November.


After months of stalling and disinformation from Missouri Republicans, abortion rights organizers in the state were permitted to move forward and collect signatures for a ballot measure to enshrine a right to abortion in February. Organizers have until May to gather over 171,000 signatures, and this week, they received a boost from Karlie Kloss, who swung by her home state to help collect signatures.

“I’m one of four daughters. I grew up here in the Midwest. My father is a physician. The idea of reproductive care was never political in my house,” Kloss told reporters. “It’s devastating to me the reality of what is happening and how it has become so politicized. Because to me, this is a conversation that belongs between an individual and their physician and an individual and their loved ones. To me, politicians should not be involved.” I have to agree!

No updates yet as to how many signatures Missouri organizers have collected but here’s hoping Kloss gave them a boost…


Via Shutterstock

In addition to Florida, Maryland and New York are also all set to vote on their respective reproductive rights measures. Marylanders will vote on whether to establish a constitutional right to abortion while New Yorkers will vote on whether to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, which advocates say would offer protection against restrictions on reproductive rights.

In addition to Montana, Maine, Arizona, and Missouri, several other states are still trying to get abortion rights ballot measures to qualify: Colorado, Nebraska, and Nevada. Colorado advocates are trying to enshrine a constitutional right to abortion that would also prevent restrictions on insurance coverage of abortion care, while Nebraska—where abortion is banned at 12 weeks—and Nevada are both trying to codify a right to abortion.

As November somehow draws nearer and nearer, organizers are fighting tooth and nail for the right to vote on abortion—in a legal landscape where doing so has never been more crucial.

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