(The Daily Signal) — Five states voted Tuesday on whether to further protect unborn life or to promote abortion. California, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana and Vermont all voted to further abortion to varying degrees.
“Any win for the radical abortion lobby is a loss for women, unborn babies, and families,” Melanie Israel, a policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)
“A number of so-called reproductive rights ballot initiatives enshrined abortion on demand at any point in pregnancy in the state constitutions, though it’s worth noting that these states had already embraced abortion on demand in their laws,” Israel said. “Unfortunately, the task facing pro-life Americans in these states has gotten more challenging, and in the meantime, citizens in these states have lost their ability to have a say on critically important policy matters.”
Here’s what happened in the five states:
Voters in California voted overwhelmingly to add a “right to reproductive freedom” to the state constitution.
Californians voted to enshrine abortion in their state with a constitutional amendment that drew support from 65% of voters.
“Here in California, voters used their voice to say loud and clear they support access to abortion and contraception, safeguarding people’s rights for generations to come,” Jodi Hicks, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, said in a statement Tuesday night.
“This overwhelming victory once again shows California’s leadership in moments of national crisis and that our values will not be compromised by a handful of conservative extremists on the U.S. Supreme Court pushing a political agenda while ignoring facts, medicine, and science,” Hicks said.
The amendment will add a right to abortion to the California Constitution. 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. This section is intended to further the constitutional right to privacy guaranteed by Section 1, and the constitutional right to not be denied equal protection guaranteed by Section 7. Nothing herein narrows or limits the right to privacy or equal protection.”
The U.S. Supreme Court’s June 24 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade didn’t affect abortion law in California. State law allows an abortion up until the time a baby is considered viable, at about 24 weeks of pregnancy, or to protect the life or health of the mother.
Now that voters have approved California’s pro-abortion amendment to the state constitution, it will provide a path for passage of legislation permitting late-term abortions.
The proposed amendment is “extreme, even for a state like California,” Jonathan Keller, president of the California Family Council, said in a prepared statement. “Many people who identify as pro-choice still reject the idea of abortions ending the lives of viable children late in pregnancy.”
Kentucky voters rejected an amendment to their state constitution Tuesday that would have clarified that no right to abortion exists within the document.
“While we are disappointed in the results of Amendment 2, the pro-life movement in Kentucky and across the nation is steadfast in its resolve to continue defending life,” David Walls, executive director of The Family Foundation, said in a statement.
The question on the ballot read:
“Are you in favor of amending the Constitution of Kentucky by creating a new section of the Constitution to be numbered Section 26A to state as follows: 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?”
Pro-abortion activists with Protect Kentucky Access write on their website that the proposed amendment “would pave the way for the state to ban abortion in all cases.” They added:
“This is about changing our constitution. The legislators and organizations behind this amendment believe all abortion should be illegal, no matter what. We cannot allow special interests to edit our constitution in an attempt to impose their personal beliefs on all Kentuckians.”
Kentucky law prohibits nearly all abortions, with exceptions to preserve the life and health of the mother.
“Kentucky’s laws protecting preborn children remain in place, and Kentuckians have returned large, pro-life legislative majorities to the General Assembly,” Walls said.
Michigan voters passed the pro-abortion Proposal 3 at the polls Tuesday.
Proposal 3 will add an “individual’s right to reproductive freedom” to the state’s constitution.
The amendment passed with 56.7% of Michiganders voting for it, and 43.3% opposing it.
“Today, the people of Michigan voted to restore the reproductive rights they’ve had for 50 years,” Reproductive Freedom for All campaign spokesperson Darci McConnell told Bridge Michigan after the group declared victory at close to 1 a.m. Wednesday.
The amendment reads in part:
“Every individual has a fundamental right to reproductive freedom, which entails 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. An individual’s right to reproductive freedom shall not be denied, burdened, nor infringed upon unless justified by a compelling state interest achieved by the least restrictive means. Notwithstanding the above, the state may regulate the provision of abortion care after fetal viability, provided that in no circumstance shall the state prohibit an abortion that, in the professional judgment of an attending health care professional, is medically indicated to protect the life or physical or mental health of the pregnant individual.”
Abortions currently are permitted in Michigan up until a baby is considered viable. Michigan’s 1931 law prohibiting abortion remains on the books, but a court blocked the law from going back into effect after the Supreme Court overturned Roe in its Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision.
Amber Roseboom of Michigan Right to Life said Proposal 3 is the “most extreme proposal facing anyone in the country this November.”
The constitutional amendment creates an “unrestricted [and] unregulated right to abortion in the Michigan Constitution,” Roseboom told The Daily Signal at an election night watch party. She said it also will “allow minors to take puberty-blocking and gender-transition therapies, and have abortions … all without parental consent.”
Christen Pollo, spokeswoman for Citizens to Support Michigan Women and Children, told The Daily Signal that the pro-life movement in Michigan will “expect the authors of this proposal to respond to the inevitable flood of litigation that will come with this amendment and insist that laws like parental consent be upheld as they promised the people of Michigan they would.”
Opponents of Michigan’s Proposal 3 have raised concerns over the amendment’s use of the word “sterilization,” fearing it could open the doors for minors to receive gender transition surgeries in which their reproductive organs are removed without parental consent.
Michigan voters who backed the amendment said they thought it was necessary to secure abortion access in their state.
Kristin Bellar, a lawyer, told The Daily Signal at a polling location in East Lansing, Michigan, on Tuesday that she voted yes on Proposal 3 because of her 6-year-old daughter.
“Sorry, it’s a little emotional to speak about,” said Bellar, 41, choking back tears. Freedom to get an abortion is part of Americans’ “fundamental rights,” she said, adding: “It’s difficult to talk about with your family and friends that don’t agree with you.”
Montana voters rejected a measure that would have added protections to state law for babies born alive during botched abortions.
With votes still being counted Wednesday, the Associated Press reported 56.7% of Montanans voted against the initiative, dubbed the Medical Care Requirements for Born-Alive Infants Measure.
The ballot measure asked voters whether they thought babies born alive after an abortion should be considered legal persons and given medical attention. 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 state Rep. Lola Sheldon-Galloway, a Republican and sponsor of the legislation, said on the House floor last year that the “practice of infants dying because they are not wanted or not planned is an abomination in God’s eyes.”
Sheldon-Galloway pledged that she would “continue to fight for the most vulnerable.”
Montana law permits an abortion up until a baby is considered viable, about 20 weeks of pregnancy.
State Rep. Kathy Kelker, a Democrat, said in a statement ahead of the vote that she opposed the ballot initiative because the “one-size-fits-all, legislated standard of care not only interferes with medical practice, but denies physicians the ability to provide care that is necessary, compassionate, and appropriate to an individual woman’s circumstances.”
Vermont now has arguably the most pro-abortion laws in the nation.
On Election Day, Vermonters voted 77.2% yes on a proposed constitutional amendment called the Right to Personal Reproductive Autonomy Amendment.
“Here in Vermont, voters took responsibility to protect care wherever possible,” Vermont’s Reproductive Liberty Ballot Committee said in a statement Tuesday night.
“With Roe v. Wade being overturned, state-level protections are vital to safeguarding access to reproductive health care, and Vermont has set an example of what is possible. We are grateful to Vermont voters for their overwhelming support of these fundamental human rights,” the pro-choice committee said.
The amendment will add these words to the Vermont Constitution:
“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.”
The language of the proposed amendment is intentionally vague, pro-life advocate Matthew Strong, executive director of Vermonters for Good Government, told The Daily Signal.
“Personal reproductive autonomy” is what the amendment proposes “enshrining as a constitutional right,” Strong said. “And because that is so vague, that will include anything our very liberal Vermont court system decides falls under ‘personal reproductive autonomy.’”
Mary Hahn Beerworth, executive director of Vermont Right to Life Committee, told The Daily Signal, “Vermonters were misled into believing that abortion would become illegal in Vermont unless citizens cast their vote in favor of passage of Proposal 5/Article 22.”
“In the wake of the Dobbs decision, proponents of unlimited, unregulated abortion throughout pregnancy capitalized on that public fear,” Beerworth said, going on to explain concerns over the amendment in more detail:
“Proponents also neatly sidestepped the fact that abortion is already legal in Vermont and has been since 1972. Abortion supporters, like Planned Parenthood, raised and spent massive amounts of money and filled the airwaves with propaganda. Their strategy also included a refusal to participate in debates or forums, while opponents of Prop 5 were fully prepared to examine the amendment in depth for greater public understanding. As expected, the Vermont media coverage was biased and unbalanced, adding to voter confusion. Most local news coverage only included proponents and even included the abortionist at the University of Vermont Medical Center as a source of neutral information.”
Eileen Sullivan, a communications director for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and Planned Parenthood Vermont Action Fund, responded to Beerworth’s comments, saying, “We held several debates and forums on Prop 5 with Rep. Anne Donahue and Sharon Toborg of Vermonters for Good Government. When they say we did not participate, that is false. We did [Greater Northshire Access Television], Barre Beat Podcast, CCTV (Town Meeting TV), and others.”