Ballot measures in five states will ask voters to weigh in Tuesday on whether to protect or restrict abortion access, following the Supreme Court’s decision earlier this year to overturn Roe v. Wade and the constitutional right to an abortion.
Proposals in California, Michigan and Vermont, if approved, would add the right to reproductive freedom to the state constitution.
Kentucky voters will decide whether their state constitution should include language that would ban the right to an abortion, while in Montana, citizens will consider a referendum on whether to adopt legislation that would declare infants born alive to be legal persons.
Access to healthcare is also the focus of a ballot initiative in South Dakota, where expansion of Medicaid is being put to a vote.
Arizona residents will vote on a measure that would cap interest on medical debt and limit wage garnishment.
Here is a closer look at the ballot measures by state.
California, Michigan and Vermont. Voters in these states will decide ballot measures that would establish state constitutional rights to abortion. In California, Proposition 1 would add a section to the constitution prohibiting the state from interfering with an individual’s reproductive freedom in the “most intimate decisions,” including the right to choose to have an abortion or to choose contraceptives. Michigan's Proposal 3 would establish an individual's right to reproductive freedom, including the right to make decisions about all matters relating to pregnancy. In Vermont, Proposal 5 would amend the state constitution to ensure that every citizen is afforded personal reproductive liberty.
Kentucky's Amendment 2. A 2019 state law made abortion illegal from the point of fertilization, except to prevent a patient's death or the impairment of a life-sustaining organ. Amendment 2 would add a section to the constitution stating that “to protect human life, nothing in this constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to an abortion or require the funding of an abortion.”
Montana Legislative Referendum 131. Called the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act, the measure would define infants born alive, including those born after an abortion, as legal persons. The act requires healthcare providers to take actions to preserve the life of a born-alive infant or be penalized. Born alive is defined as “the complete expulsion or extraction from the mother of a human infant, at any stage of development,” who “breathes, has a beating heart, or has definite movement of voluntary muscles.”
South Dakota Medicaid expansion. South Dakota is one of 12 states that have not accepted federal funding to expand Medicaid coverage to its low-income residents under the Affordable Care Act. Voters in the state will decide whether to expand Medicaid to an estimated 42,500 eligible people. Missouri and Oklahoma expanded their Medicaid programs last year after successful ballot initiatives, following moves by Idaho, Nebraska and Utah in 2020.
Arizona's Proposition 209. The initiative aimed at protecting consumers from predatory debt collection would cut the maximum interest rate on medical debt to 3% annually from a current cap of 10%. It would also decrease the amount of disposable earnings subject to garnishment to 10% and increase exemptions from debt collection for assets such as a home, car and bank account.