courtesy of kffhealthnews.org
A Growing Wave of Abortion-Related Ballot Measures
Activists in Missouri are gearing up to present a series of ballot measures to voters in 2024, following the recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to end federal protections for abortion. Similar efforts are underway in at least 11 other states, as part of a growing wave of actions since the Court's ruling in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization case. Missouri, a state with strict abortion laws, has seen ongoing legal battles over measures to increase access to abortion.
Building the Foundation for Change
The groundwork for these ballot campaigns has been laid over the past few months or even years. In Iowa, for example, efforts to pass a state constitutional amendment declaring no right to abortion began in 2021. In Colorado, rival initiatives to both protect and ban abortion could appear on the same ballot. In Missouri, potential ballot measures to increase abortion access have faced legal challenges, delaying the signature collection process.
Responding to Public Opinion
These citizen-initiated measures often emerge in response to legislatures that diverge significantly from public opinion. Despite the fact that 14 states have banned abortion since the Dobbs decision, polls suggest that these bans are not popular. For instance, a May survey by KFF found that two-thirds of adults expressed concern that these bans could make it difficult for doctors to safely treat patients. In states where abortion is still legal, there is also a push in the opposite direction.
Costly Campaigns and Financial Challenges
The cost of launching a ballot campaign can be a significant obstacle. In Missouri, it would cost over $1.6 million just to place an initiative on the ballot, not including the cost of persuading voters to support it. The campaign to protect the right to abortion in Ohio raised nearly $29 million in the two months leading up to the recent election, while the opposing campaign raised nearly $10 million. These funds often come from out-of-state groups.
Voters Could Support Abortion Rights in Missouri
Missouri voters, including many Republicans, could potentially support abortion rights in certain circumstances, according to polls. Activists in the state have presented various proposals to reverse the abortion ban, some of which include exceptions for cases of rape, incest, fetal anomalies, and maternal health. However, the cost and challenges associated with launching a ballot campaign make it a daunting task.
Overall, these ballot measures reflect a nationwide battle over abortion rights, with both sides mobilizing significant resources to shape public opinion and influence policy outcomes.