REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS PROTECTION: Anti-Abortion Groups Counter Proposed Initiatives

Anti-abortion groups and their Republican allies in Chicago governments are countering proposed ballot initiatives intended to protect reproductive rights or prevent voters from having a say in the fall elections.

The various strategies they are using include attempts to get signatures removed from initiative petitions, legislative pushes for competing ballot measures that could confuse voters and months long delays caused by lawsuits over ballot initiative language.
According to Abortion rights advocates, many of the strategies build off ones tested last year in Ohio, where voters eventually passed a constitutional amendment affirming reproductive rights.

The strategies are being used in one form or another in at least seven states where initiatives aimed at codifying abortion and reproductive rights are proposed for the November ballot.

The fights over the planned statewide ballot initiatives, are the latest sign of the deep divisions created by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision two years ago to end a constitutional right to abortion.

The stakes for the proposed ballot initiatives are high for both sides.

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Where Republicans control the legislature and enact strict abortion limits, a statewide citizens initiative is often the only avenue for protecting access to abortion and other reproductive rights.
Voters have either enshrined abortion rights or turned back attempts to restrict it in all seven states where the question has been on the ballot since 2022.

In South Dakota, lawmakers passed a bill allowing residents to withdraw their signatures on citizen-led petitions. This launched a comprehensive effort by anti-abortion groups to invalidate a proposed abortion rights ballot measure by encouraging endorsers to withdraw signatures.
An Arkansas ”Decline to Sign” campaign escalated this month after a conservative advocacy group published the names of the paid canvassers for an abortion rights ballot measure effort. Arkansans for Limited Government, the group behind the ballot measure effort, denounced the move as an intimidation tactic.

In Missouri, Republicans and anti-abortion groups have opposed efforts to restore abortion rights through a constitutional amendment at every step in the process

Meanwhile, opposition groups in Arizona, Colorado, Florida and Nebraska have tried to create their own ballot amendments to codify existing abortion restrictions, though these efforts failed to gather enough signatures in Florida and Colorado

AP

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