Ballots in California, Vermont, Michigan, Montana and Kentucky each will include proposed amendments to the state constitution regarding access to abortion and contraception.
In some states, the outcome of those proposals could impact current challenges to existing laws or make it easier to enact laws restricting abortion access in the future.
California voters will have an opportunity to amend the state’s constitution to include the right to an abortion.
A bill that would ensure a constitutional right to an abortion and contraceptives in California passed both houses with a two-thirds majority vote earlier this year.
The bill doesn’t require the governor’s signature. Rather, voters will determine Tuesday whether to go through with the amendment to the state’s constitution.
Vermont voters will have the chance to add protections under the state constitution enshrining a person’s right to an abortion. Proposition 5 specifically lays out “an individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy.”
State law already allows for access to abortion, contraception and sterilization. The proposed bill, however, would create a tougher threshold for the state to deny or infringe in those matters.
A proposed constitutional amendment in Michigan would establish the right to an abortion.
Conservative Republicans in the state had sought to allow a 1931 abortion ban to be enforced once Roe v. Wade was overturned. But a judge ruled on Sept. 7 that the ban, which made no exceptions for rape or incest, violated the state’s constitution and could not be enforced.
Reproductive rights groups say such protections would ensure future abortion access in the state, which has a Republican-controlled legislature and a Democratic governor up for re-election.
While other states’ proposals seek to protect a person’s right to an abortion, a proposed amendment in Kentucky would do the opposite by establishing that the state’s constitution does not include such protections.
Abortion rights advocates are challenging Kentucky’s six-week and near-total abortion bans in court, alleging that the restrictions go against connotational protections of privacy bodily autonomy and self-determination, according to the League of Women Voters.
That’s important because if the amendment passes, it will undermine those efforts. On the other hand, if the amendment fails, the Kentucky Supreme Court could choose to strike down the state’s current ban on abortion at conception, according to the LWV.
Montana voters will be asked to weigh in on what’s been dubbed the Born Alive Infant Protection Act. The measure would require that medical care is provided to infants who are born alive after a failed abortion.
Doctors who fail to do so would be fined as much as $50,000 and face as many as 20 years in prison. The limited data on these types of incidents suggests they are rare and likely to involve fetuses with severe conditions that make them unlikely to survive.
The passage of the act could have future implications for potential laws that would seek to limit abortion rights, despite the rights to privacy laid out in Montana’s state constitution, according to the LWV.
Reuters contributed to this story.