Factbox-Where US voters will decide on abortion rights in 2024

By Joseph Ax

(Reuters) -Abortion rights advocates aim to extend their winning streak this year, with efforts underway to place the issue before voters in November’s election in nearly a dozen states.

That list includes Florida, after the state Supreme Court ruled on April 1 that voters will decide whether to enshrine abortion protections into the state constitution in November, while simultaneously paving the way for a strict six-week ban to take effect. Democrats say the issue could make Florida competitive in the presidential race, after the state has turned toward Republicans in recent years.

Abortion rights will also be on the ballot in Arizona and Nevada, which feature competitive Senate races in addition to their status as presidential swing states.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court eliminated a nationwide right to abortion in 2022, seven states have voted in favor of abortion access, including conservative strongholds like Ohio and Kansas.

The issue was widely credited with forestalling a Republican wave in 2022, as well as propelling Democrats to victories in Kentucky and Virginia last year. It is expected to be a dominant theme in this year’s presidential race and other political campaigns.

Here are the states where abortion could be on the ballot:

ARIZONA

Arizona for Abortion Access, a coalition of reproductive rights groups, said it had collected more than 500,000 signatures as of the beginning of April, far more than the approximately 384,000 needed by July to put a measure on November’s ballot that would guarantee abortion rights.

If approved, the referendum would amend the state constitution to protect abortion rights up to fetal viability, generally around 23 or 24 weeks.

Abortions are banned after 15 weeks of pregnancy in Arizona. The state Supreme Court is expected to rule soon on whether the state must enforce a much stricter 1864 ban that would eliminate virtually all abortions statewide.

FLORIDA

The state Supreme Court on April 1 approved a ballot measure, backed by reproductive rights groups, asking voters whether to amend the state constitution to protect abortion access.

In a separate ruling, the court upheld the state’s existing 15-week abortion ban, a decision that also cleared the way for a more stringent six-week limit to take effect in May.

State Attorney General Ashley Moody, a Republican, had asked the court to block the referendum as misleading and vague, but four of the seven justices – all conservatives – disagreed.

Unlike most states, constitutional amendments in Florida must pass with at least 60% of the vote, a higher threshold of support than any statewide abortion measure has yet received.

Once a perennial battleground state, Florida has leaned Republican in recent elections, voting twice for former President Donald Trump and electing Governor Ron DeSantis in a landslide in 2022.

President Joe Biden’s campaign says it believes he can win Florida following the state Supreme Court’s decisions.

NEVADA

Abortion rights groups said they had gathered more than 110,000 signatures as of April 2, more than the 100,000 needed by late June for a constitutional amendment to protect abortion to qualify for November’s ballot.

State law already offers similar protections but adding them to the state constitution would make it harder to roll them back. Voters would need to approve the measure twice – this year and again in 2026 – to amend the constitution.

The Nevada Supreme Court is considering a challenge to the amendment’s legality.

OTHER STATES

In Missouri, South Dakota and Arkansas – all deeply conservative states where virtually all abortions have been banned – organizers are collecting signatures for ballot initiatives that would enshrine abortion rights into state constitutions.

A similar campaign is underway in Nebraska, where abortions are largely illegal after 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Ballot initiative drives are also ongoing in Montana and Colorado, both states where abortion remains legal under state law. Advocates say that adding abortion rights to the state constitutions would ensure that lawmakers or courts could not roll them back in the future.

While not a presidential battleground, Montana is expected to see a highly competitive U.S. Senate race this year.

There are two states where abortion-related measures are already assured of appearing on the ballot: New York and Maryland. In both states, abortion is already legal under state law, and the Democratic-controlled legislatures have approved referendums that would amend their state constitutions to add additional protections.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Colleen Jenkins, Andrea Ricci and Lisa Shumaker)

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