The states where abortion could be on the ballot in 2024

By Grace Panetta

Originally published by The 19th

Seven states have directly voted on abortion since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022 — and abortion rights advocates are so far undefeated with ballot measures.

The most recent win came in November when Ohio became the latest state to vote to enshrine abortion rights in its constitution. Two blue state legislatures put abortion rights constitutional amendments on their 2024 ballots, while organizers in at least nine other states so far are leading citizen-driven efforts to put similar measures on the ballot.

The proposed amendments have the potential to reshape abortion access around the country and even mobilize voters behind Democrats in critical 2024 battleground states and races. Abortion rights ballot measures outperformed Democrats on the ballot in California, Michigan and Vermont in the 2022 midterms.  

Currently, 23 states enable citizens to put constitutional amendments on the ballot, while others only allow a state legislature to put them before the voters. While not all ballot measures are necessarily constitutional amendments, most of the efforts in 2024 are behind reshaping state constitutions to enshrine reproductive rights.

Passing a ballot measure is a highly expensive, time-consuming endeavor. First, organizers must decide on language for their ballot measure. Next, they must gather tens or hundreds of thousands of signatures to put on the ballot, anticipating legal challenges to the validity of their signatures or the ballot language itself. Successful campaigns require lots of spending and intensive get-out-the-vote efforts, especially in states that require a supermajority for the measure to pass.  

Here’s an overview of where abortion will — and could be — directly on the ballot in 2024 and the challenges advocates are facing in the states.

Arizona

Arizona for Abortion Access, a coalition of reproductive rights groups, is collecting signatures to put a constitutional amendment on the 2024 ballot that would guarantee a right to abortion. The measure would protect abortion rights up to the point of fetal viability, which is determined by physicians but is usually around 22 to 25 weeks of pregnancy.

  • Current law: Abortion is currently banned after 15 weeks of pregnancy with no exceptions for rape or incest.
  • Number of signatures needed to make the ballot: 383,923
  • Deadline to submit signatures: July 4
  • Political landscape: Arizona is a swing state in the presidential race; President Joe Biden won in 2020 by just over 10,000 votes. Abortion is also likely to be a significant issue in Arizona’s competitive U.S. Senate election.

Arkansas

Arkansans for Limited Government is aiming to reverse the state’s strict abortion ban with a proposed constitutional amendment that would establish a right to abortion through 18 weeks after conception and after that in cases of rape, incest, fatal fetal anomaly or threat to the life of the patient.

  • Current law: Abortion is banned in Arkansas with no exceptions for rape or incest. Voters passed a constitutional amendment in 1988 establishing the state’s position is to “protect the life of every unborn child … to the extent permitted by the Federal Constitution.”
  • Number of signatures needed: 90,704
  • Deadline to submit signatures: July 5
  • Challenges: Republican Attorney General Tim Griffin rejected the first version of the proposed amendment language submitted to his office for approval, sending advocates back to the drawing board to draft new language. Griffin said the proposed language was vague and “tinged with partisan coloring.”
  • Political landscape: Former President Donald Trump won the state by more than 27 points in 2020.

Colorado

Both abortion rights and anti-abortion advocates have launched efforts to put constitutional amendments on the ballot. A coalition of reproductive rights groups has drafted language for a proposed amendment that would repeal Colorado’s constitutional ban on public funding for abortions, which currently bars state employees or Coloradoans on Medicaid from having abortions covered by insurance. Two anti-abortion activists have also filed draft language for a proposed ballot measure that would make abortion a crime and define life as beginning at fertilization.  

Constitutional amendments require a 55 percent supermajority to pass in Colorado.

  • Current law: Abortion is legally protected with no gestational limits in Colorado. Lawmakers established a legal right to abortion in 2022 and passed additional protections for patients traveling to Colorado from other states. Voters have also repeatedly rejected constitutional amendments that would restrict abortion in the state.
  • Number of signatures needed: 124,238
  • Deadline to submit signatures: August 5
  • Political landscape: Biden carried Colorado by 13 points in 2020. Democrats will be targeting two competitive U.S. House districts, including the Western Colorado district held by Rep. Lauren Boebert.

Florida

Floridians Protecting Freedom is leading the charge to get an amendment on the November 2024 ballot that would guarantee a right to abortion up until the point of fetal viability in Florida’s constitution. For years, Florida has been a critical access point for abortion as its neighboring states have heavily restricted or banned the procedure.

Constitutional amendments require a 60 percent supermajority to pass in Florida, and mobilizing Latinx voters will be critical for the amendment’s success.

  • Current law: Abortion is banned after 15 weeks with no exceptions for rape or incest. A six-week abortion ban lawmakers passed earlier in 2023 will go into effect if the state Supreme Court upholds the 15-week ban.
  • Number of signatures needed: 891,523
  • Deadline to submit signatures: February 1
  • Political landscape: Florida and its 30 Electoral College votes hold significant sway in the presidential race, though the once-swing state has trended Republican in recent election cycles. Florida will also have a competitive U.S. Senate race on the ballot.
  • Challenges: Florida’s Attorney General Ashley Moody has filed a lawsuit in the state Supreme Court aiming to block the abortion measure from getting on the ballot.

Maryland

Maryland voters will be voting on a constitutional amendment put on the ballot by Maryland Democratic-controlled legislature that would enshrine a broad right to abortion and other reproductive rights.

  • Current law: Abortion is legal up to the point of fetal viability in Maryland. The right to abortion has been protected under state law since the 1990s.
  • Political landscape: Biden carried Maryland by 33 points in 2020.

Missouri

Multiple figures in Missouri have put forth proposals that would repeal or loosen Missouri’s strict abortion ban, though they disagree on the best approach. One proposed measure, 11 versions of which have been submitted for consideration, would establish a constitutional right to make decisions on “all matters related to reproductive health care,” including abortion.

Another group led by a former GOP congressional staffer, Jamie Corley, is proposing measures that would add rape and incest exceptions to existing state law and ensure protection against prosecution for patients. Some of their proposals would also legalize abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Montana

Montana abortion rights groups are taking steps toward putting an abortion rights constitutional amendment on the 2024 ballot. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana is drafting language for a measure that would protect abortion up until the point of fetal viability in the state constitution.

Nebraska

Protect Our Rights, a coalition of advocates in Nebraska, are aiming to put an amendment on the November 2024 ballot guaranteeing a constitutional right to abortion up to the point of fetal viability.

  • Current law: Abortion is banned after 12 weeks in Nebraska with exceptions for rape, incest and threat to the life of the pregnant patient.
  • Number of signatures needed: Signatures from 10 percent of Nebraska registered voters, or a little over 120,000 people
  • Deadline to submit signatures: July 5
  • Political landscape: Nebraska splits up its electoral votes by congressional district, and the Omaha-based 2nd District is a battleground in both the U.S. House and the Electoral College; Trump won the state overall by 19 points in 2020, but Biden carried the 2nd District with 56 percent of the vote.

Nevada

Abortion rights advocates want to put a measure on the 2024 ballot that would establish a constitutional right to abortion before the point of fetal viability in Nevada.

Proposed constitutional amendments must pass in two consecutive election cycles in Nevada, meaning if the measure gets on the ballot and passes in 2024, it would go before voters again in 2026.

  • Current law: Abortion is legal up to 24 weeks in Nevada. In the 1990s, lawmakers codified a right to abortion in state law.
  • Signatures needed: 102,362
  • Deadline to submit signatures: June 26
  • Political landscape: Nevada is a critical battleground state in the 2024 presidential race; Biden carried the state by 2.4 points in 2020. Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen is also facing a competitive reelection race that will be key to Democrats’ hopes of holding control of the U.S. Senate.
  • Challenges: A judge ruled in November that the proposed measure violates Nevada’s requirement that ballot measures address a single subject, a decision proponents are likely to appeal to the state Supreme Court.

New York

New Yorkers will be voting on a broad equal rights amendment that would ban a wide range of discrimination and establish a right to abortion and other reproductive health care in the state constitution. The measure has been passed twice by the legislature and will now go to the voters in 2024 for final approval.

  • Current law: Abortion is protected under state law. Lawmakers in 2019 removed abortion from being regulated in the state’s criminal code and allowed the procedure at any stage of pregnancy to save the patient’s life or health.
  • Political landscape: New York has several competitive U.S. House races on the ballot and will be critical to Democrats’ chances of taking back control of the chamber. Some Democrats have said they hope the equal rights amendment will boost turnout for Democrats.

South Dakota

South Dakota was the first U.S. state to establish a citizen-led ballot initiative process in 1898. In 2024, the group Dakotans for Health wants to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would guarantee a right to abortion in the first trimester and only allow it to regulate abortion in ways “reasonably related to the physical health of the pregnant woman” in the second trimester.  

Major reproductive rights organizations, including the regional ACLU and Planned Parenthood affiliates, aren’t supporting the proposal, arguing the measure doesn’t go far enough and that Dakotans for Health rushed drafting and submitting the language.

  • Current law: Abortion is banned in South Dakota with no exceptions for rape or incest. Voters rejected anti-abortion constitutional amendments in 2006 and 2008.
  • Signatures needed: 35,017
  • Deadline to submit signatures: May 7.
  • Political landscape: Trump carried South Dakota by 26 points in 2020.

Where abortion has won on the ballot since Dobbs

California

California voted to enshrine a right to abortion and contraception in its state constitution in 2022. The measure passed with 67 percent of the vote; Biden won the state by 29 points in 2020.

Michigan

Michigan established a constitutional right to abortion and other reproductive health care, including contraception, miscarriage care, fertility treatment, and pre- and post-natal care in 2022. The measure passed with 57 percent of the vote; Biden won the state by three points in 2020.

Ohio

Ohio voted to protect a right to abortion up until the point of viability as well as contraception, miscarriage care and fertility treatment in its state constitution in 2023. The measure passed with 57 percent of the vote; Trump won the state by eight points in 2020.

Vermont

Vermont voted to add a right to “personal reproductive autonomy,” including abortion, in its state constitution in 2022. The measure passed with 77 percent of the vote; Biden won it by 35 points in 2020.

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