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State Ballot Initiative and Referendum Roundup

In Florida and Montana anti-abortion initiatives or referenda will appear on state ballots in 2012. In nine additional states, initiatives or referenda to restrict women’s reproductive rights may appear on the 2012 November ballot.

Initiatives and Referenda that Will Appear on State Ballots

Montana-A parental notification initiative, requiring that the parents of a minor be notified prior to an abortion, will appear on the ballot in 2012 as a legislatively-referred state statute. In California, an initiative that requires parental notification before a minor obtains an abortion may also appear on the ballot. Ten different versions of the initiative have been filed with the Attorney General. Three prior parental notification ballot measures have been defeated- in 2005, 2006, and 2008. Four versions are currently circulating.

Florida- A state constitutional amendment prohibiting the use of public funds for abortion, except as required by federal law and to save the mother’s life will appear on the state ballot. Moreover, the measure includes a provision that the Florida constitution cannot be interpreted as providing broader rights for abortion than the US Constitution. The amendment requires 60 percent voter approval to be adopted.

Although no “personhood” state constitutional amendment has been approved to appear on a 2012 state ballot, such amendments are currently circulating in eight states. Anti-abortion rights groups are divided about proceeding with the personhood amendments because of the recent defeat of a personhood amendment in Mississippi and because they question whether the initiatives and referenda will be upheld in the courts. For example the National Right to Life Committee and Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum appear to be opposed to this effort.

Alabama- A personhood amendment, which provides state constitutional rights to fertilized eggs, may appear on the 2012 state ballot as a legislatively-referred state statute. A three-fifths vote of the state legislature is required.

Arkansas-A personhood amendment, which proposed to give constitutional rights from the moment of fertilization, may appear on the state ballot. On January 3, 2012 state Attorney General Dustin McDaniel rejected the wording of the amendment, citing ambiguity. Personhood Arkansas, which introduced the amendment, can resubmit its proposal. 78,133 signatures must be gathered in order for the amendment to appear on the ballot.

California – A personhood amendment, which states that personhood begins at the moment of conception, may appear on the state ballot. 807,615 signatures must be collected by April 16, 2012. Colorado- The language of a personhood amendment, which states that personhood begins at the start of biological development, has been approved. 85,853 signatures are needed by August 6, 2012.

Florida- A personhood amendment, which proposes to give constitutional rights from the beginning of biological development, may appear on the ballot. Personhood Florida and the American Life League support adding a personhood amendment to the state ballot. However, Eagle Forum is opposed because it diverts attention from electing anti-abortion candidates. Moreover, Florida’s Catholic Bishops recently banned the collection of any signatures at churches for the initiative. As of November 2011, only 200,000 signatures had been collected, and 676,811 are needed for the amendment to appear on the state ballot.

Georgia- A personhood amendment may appear on the Georgia ballot as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. The amendment states that life begins at the moment of fertilization, and it would ban abortion and in vitro fertilization. It must be approved by a two-thirds vote of the state House and Senate.
Montana- A personhood amendment, which would give constitutional rights to a “person” at any stage of development including at fertilization and conception, may appear on the state ballot. 48,673 signatures must be collected by June 22, 2012. Five hundred churches have indicated their support for the personhood amendment. 116,283 signatures must be collected before July 6, 2012.

Ohio- The Ohio Ballot Board approved the language purposed by anti-abortion rights groups for a personhood amendment, which proposes to give constitutional rights to a fertilized egg. The petitioners must now collect 385,245 signatures from 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties in the next six months in order for the initiative to appear on the state’s November ballot.

Oregon- The “Right to Life” amendment, which “recognizes right to life of human beings-unless sentenced to death-and embryos” and would prohibit abortions, may appear on the state ballot.

What’s more, two states may have “Right to Life” amendments on their ballots.
Kansas- A legislatively-referred “Right to Life” Amendment that would end abortion in the state may appear on the state ballot. It requires a two-thirds vote of both the Kansas House and Senate.

BallotPedia 1/13/12; Feminist Daily Newswire 1/12/12

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