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Abortion rights advocates are continuing to pursue the strategy of leaving abortion issues up to the voters. Both Maryland and New York have certified statewide measures related to abortion policies to include on the ballot in their 2024 elections. This has proven to be an effective strategy based on the wins in California, Michigan, Vermont, Kansas, Kentucky, and Montana in 2022. 

Maryland’s “Right to Reproductive Freedom Amendment” would establish a fundamental right to reproductive freedom in the state constitution, defined to include “decisions to prevent, continue, or end one’s own pregnancy.” The state would also be prohibited from “denying, burdening, or abridging” that right if voters approve the ballot measure. As states in the South continue to restrict abortion access, Maryland has become a safe haven for those seeking care. “Twenty six states had patients visit us here in Maryland because they could not get health care easily in their own state,” Karen Nelson, the President of Planned Parenthood of Maryland, said. This ballot measure would ensure that patients across the country can continue receiving essential reproductive healthcare in Maryland.   

New York’s potential referendum is the “Equal Protection of Law Amendment,” which would amend the New York Constitution to prohibit the denial of rights to an individual based on their “pregnancy, pregnancy outcomes, and reproductive healthcare and autonomy,” along with other classes like ethnicity, disability, age, and sex. This is a broader measure that would strengthen the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution and ensure that reproductive freedom is legally protected in New York.      

Despite the radical policies being passed by GOP lawmakers in many states, the right to abortion is widely popular amongst the American public, with approximately 8 out of 10 Americans supporting some level of access to abortion. “We are living in a time when the Supreme Court is actively working to take Americans’ rights away,” Maryland Governor Wes Moore said. The rampant corruption within the Supreme Court since the overturn of Roe v. Wade has pushed many states to take matters into their own hands and leave abortion issues up to the democratic process, where voters are likely to choose to protect reproductive freedoms.         

Sources: Ballotpedia 5/30/2023; CBS News 5/3/2023; WYPR 3/7/2023

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