Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 26, 2022 / 11:40 am (CNA).
Americans in five states will vote on abortion and the life issue in November. Three states — California, Michigan, and Vermont — are proposing constitutional amendments to advance abortion. At the same time, citizens in Kentucky and Montana are voting on pro-life measures.
The ballot initiatives follow the Supreme Court’s June decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade and leaves abortion up to the states. They also come after the pro-life “Value Them Both” amendment recently failed in Kansas.
“I think the challenge of a ballot initiative is just getting your message out there when there’s so many other messages,” Katie Glenn, state policy director at SBA Pro-Life America, told CNA. “It’s all coming down to this one moment and capturing attention to get voters out there.”
“What we’ve really learned from Kansas was that the other side is willing to spend millions of dollars to lie and to really try to scare people into something that is not the reality of — certainly abortion law in Kansas — but of any state,” she added.
For pro-life candidates also on the ballot, she said, this means that they should talk about their position rather than letting their opponents define it.
“It should be the easiest thing in the world to say ‘I support women, I support babies, I support families,’” she said.
Americans will make their decision on those candidates — and these five ballot initiatives — on Nov. 8.
California: Proposition 1
Proposition 1 would amend California’s constitution to explicitly protect abortion.
It reads: “The state shall not deny or interfere with an individual’s reproductive freedom in their most intimate decisions, which includes their fundamental right to choose to have an abortion and their fundamental right to choose or refuse contraceptives.”
California currently allows abortion for any reason before viability, when a baby can survive outside the womb — generally considered to begin around 24 weeks of pregnancy. After viability, California allows abortion when a woman’s life or health is threatened.
The California Catholic Conference encourages pro-life voters to say “no” to Prop. 1.
“Proposition 1 is a worst-case scenario for abortion in California,” the group warns. “It is an expensive and misleading ballot measure that allows unlimited late-term abortions — for any reason, at any time, even moments before birth, paid for by tax dollars.”
A campaign for the amendment led by pro-abortion groups, called Yes on Proposition 1, argues that Proposition 1 would “ensure that, in California, people continue to have the power to control their own bodies and personal decisions.”
Kentucky: Amendment 2
Kentucky citizens will vote on Amendment 2 — a pro-life amendment — in November.
It reads: “To protect human life, nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.”
As a state, Kentucky currently prohibits abortion with exceptions for saving a woman’s life or preventing serious risk to her physical health.
The Yes for Life alliance, which includes the Catholic Conference of Kentucky, asks pro-life citizens to vote yes. The group says that the amendment’s language “will prevent state judges from asserting their own preferences over the will of legislators and the voters.”
Opposing the amendment, the Protect Kentucky Access coalition claims that the amendment would “pave the way for the state to ban abortion in all cases.”
Michigan: Proposal 3
Michigan’s proposed constitutional amendment, Proposal 3, would advance abortion.
The wording of the measure has been a source of controversy. On the ballot, the amendment is called a “proposal to amend the state constitution to establish new individual right to reproductive freedom, including right to make all decisions about pregnancy and abortion; allow state to regulate abortion in some cases; and forbid prosecution of individuals exercising established right.”
The amendment would “Establish new individual right to reproductive freedom, including right to make and carry out all decisions about pregnancy, such as prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, contraception, sterilization, abortion, miscarriage management, and infertility; Allow state to regulate abortion after fetal viability, but not prohibit if medically needed to protect a patient’s life or physical or mental health; Forbid state discrimination in enforcement of this right; prohibit prosecution of an individual, or a person helping a pregnant individual, for exercising rights established by this amendment; Invalidate state laws conflicting with this amendment.”
In Michigan, women can obtain abortions for any reason before viability. After viability, abortion is permitted to save the woman’s life.
The Citizens to Support MI Women and Children coalition, which includes the Michigan Catholic Conference, advises pro-life voters to vote no on the amendment. The group says it would “radically distort Michigan’s Constitution to create a new unlimited right to abortion.”
“This poorly-worded amendment would repeal dozens of state laws, including our state’s ban on tax-funded abortions, the partial-birth abortion ban, and fundamentally alter the parent-child relationship by preventing parents from having input on their children’s health,” the group says.
The coalition criticized the amendment’s wording last month, saying state officials should strike it from the Nov. 8 ballot.
In support of the amendment, Reproductive Freedom for All argues that, “in addition to ensuring access to a broad range of reproductive health care, this amendment would make sure no one goes to prison for providing safe medical care.”
Montana: Legislative Referendum 131 (LR-131)
Voters in Montana will consider Legislative Referendum 131, which says it will protect babies who are born alive after attempted abortions.
It reads: “An act adopting the born-alive infant protection act; providing that infants born alive, including infants born alive after an abortion, are legal persons; requiring health care providers to take necessary actions to preserve the life of a born-alive infant; providing a penalty; providing that the proposed act be submitted to the qualified electors of Montana; and providing an effective date.”
Montana law allows abortion before viability. Abortion is also permitted after viability to save a woman’s life or prevent serious risk to her physical health.
SBA Pro-Life America’s Glenn said that she personally found the ballot initiative in Montana — a state she said has been getting progressively more pro-life — the most interesting.
“I think that one’s different than the other four, which are all very much time-gestational bans, in that this is not a pro-life/pro-choice issue,” she said. “This is about providing lifesaving care to a child who’s already been born.”
Opposing the referendum, Compassion for Montana Families claims that it “would introduce extreme penalties for medical providers who, at the family’s request, do not take a dying infant away from its parents in order to perform invasive and even painful medical treatments in tragic circumstances where they have no chance of survival.”
Vermont: Article 22
In Vermont, citizens will vote on the constitutional amendment Article 22, also known as Proposal 5, which promotes abortion.
It reads: “That an individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the liberty and dignity to determine one’s own life course and shall not be denied or infringed unless justified by a compelling State interest achieved by the least restrictive means.”
Abortion is legal up until birth in the state.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington, which includes the entire state of Vermont, published a piece in its diocesan bulletin warning that the amendment “promises to enshrine unlimited, unregulated abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy in our state’s founding document” and “would permanently block any attempt to protect the unborn — even those who can survive outside the womb.”
Vermont Right to Life Committee urges citizens to vote no.
Led by pro-abortion groups, Vermont for Reproductive Liberty Ballot Committee argues: “We need this amendment because important medical decisions should be guided by a patient’s health and wellbeing, not by a politician’s beliefs.”
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