The first ballot test of the post-Roe era will be on Aug. 2 when Kansas voters are presented with a proposed constitutional amendment that declares there is no constitutional right to abortion.

The Kansas Value Them Both Amendment will be the first of at least four proposed constitutional amendments addressing abortion certain to go before voters during the 2022 election cycle.

After this week’s leak of the U.S. Supreme Court’s draft ruling in favor of nixing 1973’s Roe v. Wade decision, efforts by pro-life activists in Colorado to get an abortion ban on this year’s ballot have gained traction while pro-choice groups in Michigan are staging a late drive to qualify a “reproductive rights” amendment for a November referendum.

If the draft remains as is, the ruling itself is not surprising. All sides of the abortion debate expected the court to uphold a Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy when it ruled on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and to return regulation of abortion to the states.

In anticipation of the ruling, state lawmakers across the country have been adopting legislation that would go into effect if the Supreme Court kicked abortion regulation back to the states.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy nonprofit that supports abortion rights, at least 531 “anti-abortion restrictions” were introduced in 40 states during sessions in 2022 after lawmakers in 2021 adopted more than 100 laws restricting abortion—the most in any year in the last five decades.

According to Congressional Quarterly/Fiscal Note, of those 500-plus proposals, lawmakers in nine states have adopted 33 new abortion restrictions as of May 2.

Those new laws include “trigger bans” that prohibit abortion from 15 weeks, approved this year in Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Oklahoma’s new law would ban abortion at six weeks.

Court rulings have suspended such “trigger bans” in Alabama, Georgia, Iowa, Ohio, and South Carolina. Those rulings would likely be overturned in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Mississippi case.

A pro-life activist holds a model fetus during a demonstration in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on June 29, 2020. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Depending on how laws are implemented, abortion access would be dramatically curtailed in 23 to 26 states if the leaked draft ruling went into effect.

Meanwhile, the likelihood of the Supreme Court tossing out Roe v Wade has also spurred lawmakers in seven states to adopt 11 bills that protect access to abortion, including New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Washington.

California lawmakers passed a law to make abortions less expensive for private insurance plans. In Colorado, legislators codified the right to receive an abortion in the state when they adopted their Reproductive Health Equity Act.

In Maryland, where the legislature passed four abortion rights measures this year, lawmakers overrode Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s objections to several provisions.

In addition to legislative actions, lawmakers and activists on both sides of the issue propose ballot initiatives in several states that would directly appeal to voters.

At least four proposed ballot measures addressing abortion are sure to be on 2022 ballots because lawmakers put them there. Three seek to restrict the procedure.

In addition to the Kansas Value Them Both Amendment going before voters in August, Kentucky lawmakers have placed a similar proposed “no right to abortion” constitutional amendment on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.

The Iowa Legislature has put a “no right to abortion” proposed constitutional amendment on the November 2024 ballot.

The Oklahoma Senate this year also passed proposals to place “no right to abortion” and “rights of the unborn” proposed constitutional amendments on November’s ballot.

But with Oklahoma Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt on Tuesday signing a bill into law that prohibits abortion at six weeks, it is uncertain if the House will advance the two prospective measures to the ballot before the session adjourns on May 27.

In January, the Montana Legislature agreed to place LR-131, the Medical Care Requirements for Born-Alive Infants Measure, on November’s ballot.

LR 131 states, “infants born alive at any stage of development are legal persons” and require “medical care to be provided to infants born alive after an induced labor, cesarean section, attempted abortion, or another method.”

The fourth abortion-related measure certain to be on the ballot this year—and the only one that expands “abortion rights”—is Vermont’s Proposal 5, the Right to Personal Reproductive Autonomy Amendment.

If adopted, the Vermont Constitution would state, “an individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the liberty and dignity to determine one’s own life course.”

Lawmakers had to adopt resolutions in consecutive legislative bienniums to get on the ballot via legislation. Vermont legislators passed the resolution in 2019-20 and again in 2021-22.

In Colorado, where lawmakers passed a Reproductive Health Equity Act enshrining abortion access this year, pro-life forces are nevertheless mounting a signature-gathering petition to get a proposed ban on abortion except to save the life of the mother adopted by voters in November.

Angela Eicher, of the Northeast Colorado United for Life Committee, and Rebecca Greenwood, of Christian Harvest International, are sponsors of the proposed ballot measure, which was cleared for signature gathering in April.

They need 124,632 valid signatures by Aug. 8 to qualify.

Similar measures seeking to restrict abortion in Colorado have not fared well. In 2020, Coloradans rejected an initiative to ban abortions after a fetus reaches 22-weeks.

More likely to get on November’s ballot—and be among the most-watched votes in the nation—is the Michigan Right to Reproductive Freedom Initiative.

Sponsored by Reproductive Freedom for All, a coalition that includes the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, the proposed constitutional amendment was cleared for signature gathering in March.

The prospective amendment would create a state constitutional right to reproductive freedom, which it defines as “the right to make and effectuate decisions about all matters relating to pregnancy, including but not limited to prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, contraception, sterilization, abortion care, miscarriage management, and infertility care.”

Sponsors need 425,059 signatures by July 11 to get on November’s ballot.

John Haughey


John Haughey has been a working journalist since 1978 with an extensive background in local government, state legislatures, and growth and development. A graduate of the University of Wyoming, he is a Navy veteran who fought fires at sea during three deployments aboard USS Constellation. He’s been a reporter for daily newspapers in California, Washington, Wyoming, New York, and Florida; a staff writer for Manhattan-based business trade publications.

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