Abortion on the Ballot in 2024

In the 2022 election, Michigan, California, and Vermont voters successfully passed abortion protection referendums, while Kansas, Kentucky, and Montana voters rejected anti-abortion ballot measures. This outcome proved to abortion advocates that it is possible to prevent abortion restrictions from spreading across the nation post-Roe. Currently, there are 12 pro-abortion referendums in various stages of the ballot initiative process for the 2024 election. As of now, two referendums have been officially placed on the ballot, one in Maryland and one in New York.

On the 2024 Ballot

The Maryland Right to Reproductive Freedom Amendment would add the fundamental right to reproductive freedom to the Maryland Constitution’s Declaration of Rights. Maryland currently allows abortions in the state but wants to ensure that abortion rights remain unchallenged by placing the right to an abortion firmly in the state’s constitution.

The New York Equal Protection of Law Amendment would amend the already existing Equal Protection Clause. If passed, the amendment would prohibit discrimination based on “ethnicity, national origin, age, [and] disability,” and “sex, including sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, pregnancy outcomes, and reproductive healthcare and autonomy.” The added language in the amendment offers a much-needed clarification. If the amendment is passed, those seeking abortions in the state of New York cannot be criminalized or discriminated against based on their pregnancy outcome. It would protect pregnant people against any adverse government actions, which have been happening all around the country since Roe v. Wade was overturned in 2022.

Qualified for the Ballot

The Florida Right to Abortion Initiative would provide individuals in Florida the constitutional right to an abortion before 24 weeks of pregnancy or when necessary to protect the patient’s health.

Collecting Signatures

Pending official review 

The Arkansas Right to Abortion Initiative would prevent restrictions on abortion within 18 weeks of conception, in cases of rape, incest, or fetal anomalies, and in cases that protect the mother.

Proposed

The Maine Right to Personal Reproductive Autonomy Amendment has been proposed as an amendment to Maine’s constitution. 

Determined to be “legally insufficient”

The Montana Right to Abortion Initiative would have amended the state constitution to allow individuals to make decisions about their own pregnancy.

Anti-Abortion Referendums

There are also 6 anti-abortion referendums in various stages of the ballot initiative process for the 2024 election.

Cleared for Signature Gathering

Proposed 

Protecting abortion rights through ballot referendums is a key strategy in safeguarding bodily autonomy and reproductive freedom. The outcomes of recent elections, where voters have upheld measures regarding abortion access even in seemingly conservative states, underscore the significance of this issue. Advocating for and restoring abortion rights is not just a matter of policy; it is a fundamental step towards creating a more just and equitable society for all.

The Latest Developments in Trump’s Legal Cases

Former President Donald Trump is facing multiple lawsuits and 91 felony counts across four criminal cases. Here’s the latest updates. 

E. Jean Carroll Defamation Case  

Former President Donald Trump has been ordered to pay E. Jean Carroll $83.3 million dollars for defaming her after she bravely came forward in 2019 to accuse him of sexual assault. On January 16th, the defamation trial began to determine the damages and resulted in the huge victory for Ms. Carroll and her legal team. Ms. Carroll was awarded $5 million dollars in a previous trial where they found that Trump did assault and defame Carroll. 

The defamation case was brought to court after Mr. Trump used his influence over supporters to attack Ms. Carroll on his Truth Social website, on the campaign trail, and in news conferences. In a 2019 interview, Trump denied the allegations, called Ms. Carroll a “whack job,” and stated, “she’s not my type.”

As the years-long trial draws to its conclusion, Ms. Carroll’s win in the defamation case sparks hope for justice. Ms. Carroll finally got the closure she deserved after years of suffering. In an interview after her case had concluded she stated, “It was like he was like nothing, like an emperor without clothes.” 

Trump Organization Civil Fraud Case 

On top of his defamation trial, Mr. Trump could also be ordered to pay up to an additional $370 million dollars after his civil trial wrapped up last Thursday, in which the office of New York accused him and his company of fraud. The trial accuses Mr. Trump of lying about the value of his assets for personal gain. Justice Arthur Engoron is said to be issuing a ruling that states how much Trump and the Trump Organization should pay on January 31st. 

January 6th Indictment

Trump was indicted on four charges in a federal case related to his role in the January 6th attack on the Capital and his attempts to remain in power after losing the election to President Joe Biden. A trial is scheduled for March 4th, 2024. The charges are:

  • One count of conspiracy to violate civil rights by attempting to reverse the 2020 presidential election. 
  • One count detailing the conspiracy to defraud the US government. 
  • One count related to obstructing the process of vote certification proceedings on January 6th. 
  • One count related to conspiring to obstruct the process of vote certification proceedings.

Georgia Indictment 

Trump and 18 others were indicted on 41 charges in Fulton County, Georgia on charges related to attempting to overturn the state’s election results and suppress voters. No trial date has been set but charges have been filed. 

The charges are: 

  • 22 counts related to forgery or false documents and statements.
  • 8 counts related to soliciting or impersonating public officers.
  • 3 counts related to influencing a witness. 
  • 1 count related to racketeering. 
  • 1 count related to perjury.

Classified Documents Case 

In June, Trump was charged with 40 criminal counts for unlawful possession and handling of government documents after he had left office. A trial date has been set for May 20, 2024. 

  • 32 counts related to illegally keeping classified documents post-presidency.
  • 7 counts related to obstructing the investigation by attempting to block document retrieval.
  • 3 counts related to false statements made by Trump regarding the investigation. 

Manhattan Criminal Case 

Trump was indicted on 34 charges related to falsifying his business records in order to reimburse his lawyer Michael Cohen after Cohen paid Stormy Daniels. 

A trial date has been set for March 25, 2024. 

  • 11 counts related to false invoices submitted by Cohen for legal fees. 
  • 11 counts related to checks written by Trump to Cohen as reimbursement.
  • 12 counts related to account records made to reimburse Trump for the payments.

President Biden hosts Restore Roe rally in Virginia

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris hosted a “Restore Roe” rally in Manassas, Virginia on Tuesday, signifying the importance of abortion rights in the 2024 election cycle. They were joined by their spouses, First Lady Jill Biden and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, who spoke  first as they rallied for the restoration and protection of reproductive rights. In Biden-Harris’s first appearance together since starting their campaign for the 2024 presidential election, they sent a vital message about how the nation’s overwhelming support for abortion rights will determine the outcome of the election. 

Boisterous chants of “Four More Years” and “Let’s Go Joe” echoed throughout the Hylton Performing Arts Center as President Biden took the stage to advocate for the reversal of destructive anti-abortion policies created when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade through their Dobbs v. Jackson decision: “The extreme laws passed by Dobbs have no place in the United States of America. But what does have a place is your voice! The Dobbs decision practically dares the women of America to be heard.” 

Biden then called on the audience to vote for the restoration of the protections that were once recognized by the Supreme Court. “Today isn’t just a day to remember the anniversary of Roe v. Wade,” said President Biden. “Today is a day to call to action. With your voice, with your power, with your vote, we can restore the protections that have been around for over 50 years under Roe v. Wade.” 

The Biden-Harris administration was joined by reproductive rights advocate Amanda Zurawski, who made a moving speech about her traumatic experience of being denied access to abortion care in post-Roe Texas. “The near-total abortion ban had gone into effect just after my water broke. Ending the pregnancy would have been considered an illegal abortion and my doctor would be at risk of loss of her license or even jail time. I was told to wait. I had to wait until I got so sick that my life was considered in danger.” The Texas law punishes abortion providers with fines of at least $100,000, bans them from practicing medicine, and sentences healthcare providers with up to 99 years in jail. 

Zurawski’s speech was a sobering, emotional case for abortion access; a case that has played out time and again in 21 states where extreme Republican legislatures have moved to dismantle women’s health care after the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson. Audience members wiped tears from their eyes as Zurawski recounted how she was denied abortion care even as she faced death from sepsis. After her doctor finally provided her with the health care she needed, she spent three days in the intensive care unit fighting for her life. Zurawski’s speech reminded those in attendance at the rally of the real-life consequences that come from restricting abortion access: “It was in that dark and lonely hospital room that I realized I was actually lucky. I lived. Others would not be so lucky.” 

The Future of America’s Abortion Laws 

The rally captured the growing momentum of the national movement to restore the protections afforded by Roe v. Wade. Access to healthcare and abortion rights are driving election results.  Many politicians were held accountable for their anti-abortion campaigning during the midterm elections of 2022. When women’s health care is on the ballot, such as constitutional amendments in Michigan, Ohio, Kansas, and Wisconsin, the vast majority of Americans showed they were willing to turn out to vote in support of abortion rights for all. But restoring abortion rights on the basis of Roe v. Wade is not enough. 

By enshrining the Equal Rights Amendment in the U.S. Constitution, a strong legal foundation of sex equality would be established to protect the right to abortion and the full range of reproductive healthcare. Many feminist activists and legal scholars point out that abortion rights established by Roe were based on a right to privacy, which is a weaker argument than a decision based on equality. 

The future of abortion access depends on the ERA explicitly guaranteeing equality in the Constitution – definitively protecting abortion access and giving women autonomy over their bodies.

The 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade

January 22nd should be a day to celebrate Roe v. Wade’s landmark ruling and look back on how far abortion rights have come in the United States. Instead, we find ourselves in unprecedented times where the right to an abortion is being challenged across the country. 15 states have now passed extremely restrictive abortion laws with very limited exceptions. These laws have not stopped pro-abortion advocates as they continue the fight against these egregious restrictions on the right to an abortion. 

Background

On January 22nd, 1973, the Supreme Court announced their decision in Roe v. Wade, siding with “Jane Roe,” the anonymous woman who filed the lawsuit. The court struck down a Texas law that made it a crime to perform an abortion, leading to a federal constitutional right to abortion in the United States.

“Jane Roe” was actually a woman named Norma McCorvey, who was denied an abortion in 1969 because her pregnancy didn’t pose any medical risk. In the 1950s and 1960s, an estimated 200,000 to 1.2 million illegal abortions were performed each year. Abortion was completely banned in 30 states and restricted in 22 more. McCorvey was denied an abortion because of Texas’s restrictive anti-abortion laws and ended up placing the baby for adoption. So, with the help of a friend, she met with a group of Texas lawyers, led by Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee, who wanted to challenge the abortion ban in the United States. After three years, the case finally made its way up to the Supreme Court, where a new precedent was set and abortion was legalized. The landmark decision made the medical procedure more accessible to those who needed safe and easy access to an abortion. 

What Changed? 

Now, on the cusp of the 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we are witnessing reversal after reversal of abortion protections. On June 24th, 2022, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade through their Dobbs v. Jackson decision, overruling 50 years of precedent and setting off a wave of abortion bans across the country. 

Texas is just one of the states reinstating previous extreme bans on abortion. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on January 2nd, 2024 that emergency abortions can be banned in the state of Texas, despite federal guidelines, in the case Cox v. Texas. 

When Kate Cox, a 31-year-old mother of two from Dallas, learned her fetus had a fatal diagnosis, she filed for an emergency court order to access an abortion in the state. While Texas’s abortion ban ban does have exceptions, they are written so unclearly that many healthcare providers. will not perform abortions as to avoid criminal prosecution. Cox ended up leaving the state to get an abortion, but not before facing serious physical and mental health struggles from forced pregnancy. 

President Biden and Vice President Harris are set to address the critical state of abortion rights on January 23rd in a rally in Manassas, Virginia. They are expected to speak about the rise of abortion bans across the country and the impact on women in these states, making reproductive rights a critical focus of the November election. 

Supreme Court set to rule on Mifepristone access

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case regarding the restriction on the use of mifepristone in the United States. Mifepristone — when taken in conjunction with misoprostol — is a pill that can end a pregnancy that is less than 10 weeks along. 

In August 2023, Texas’ ultra-conservative 5th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision that would deny women access to the medication mifepristone. Previously, a federal judge in Amarillo, Texas attempted to completely ban the use of mifepristone by suspending its regulatory approval. However, this decision was remanded back to the lower court by the Supreme Court. The restrictions imposed by the new lower court ruling have made their way back to the Supreme Court. The restrictions include: shutting down access to mifepristone by mail, banning those who are more than 7 weeks pregnant from using mifepristone, and forcing direct physician supervision for anyone taking or administering mifepristone. 

Background

The Feminist Majority Foundation’s President, Eleanor Smeal, was one of the first activists to bring attention to mifepristone as a life-saving medication for women across the US. With Smeal’s help, the Feminist Majority Foundation fought for the right to access the medication, built widespread public support through an 11-year education campaign, and pressed for FDA approval. 

In September of 2000, the FDA finally approved mifepristone as a method for abortion in the early stages of pregnancy. This approval was the result of four years of review and scientific study. Twenty years of FDA scrutiny including follow-up research has proven the medication to be safe. In 2020, over half of abortions in the United States were done through a pill and 98% of those abortions involved mifepristone in combination with a second pill. This means that five million people relied on mifepristone when they needed abortion care or had a miscarriage. This method has been shown by the FDA to be safe and effective for over 20 years.

Implications

New mifepristone restrictions are another way in which anti-abortion advocates are threatening people’s rights to medical care. Since the Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to an abortion in June of 2022, basic care is being denied as healthcare providers risk facing criminal prosecution from performing what were once routine life-saving procedures and prescribing life-saving prescriptions. Other doctors are fleeing jurisdictions that have criminalized healthcare procedures for women. As doctors leave, maternity deserts are cropping up all over the country, causing pregnancy complications to increase and dangerously reducing or destroying access to reproductive care. If the Supreme Court allows for the mifepristone restrictions to take effect, this problem will be exacerbated; gaining access to mifepristone will become nearly impossible for those who do not have the resources to drive hundreds of miles to see a physician just to get medication.  

Anti-abortion advocates argue that the FDA overlooked studies and rushed the approval of mifepristone when they approved it in 2000. In addition, they claim that mifepristone is a dangerous drug and should be banned. This claim is false. For over 20 years, mifepristone has been used safely and has an efficacy rate of 95% when used in combination with misoprostol. All medication has the possibility of side effects, but mifepristone has such a strong safety record that abortion providers say it is safer than taking Tylenol

By restricting access to the drug mifepristone, the Supreme Court will continue to bolster the power of conservative anti-abortion groups. Restrictions such as banning the availability of mifepristone by mail allows for anti-abortion groups to dictate how women can or cannot access reproductive resources. Anti-abortion strategies seek to create false narratives about mifepristone and create even more complicated barriers to abortion. 

Retaining access to mifepristone with no restrictive rules in place would be a lifesaving win for women in the United States. It would help women deal with the complexities of their everyday lives while also enabling them to make the best medical decisions for their own body. Anti-abortion groups are actively making it difficult for oppressed groups of people to access reproductive care. We must continue to fight back to ensure that mifepristone will stay legal in the United States.

>

Support eh ERA banner