Factbox-Five States Have Abortion Initiatives On Their US Midterm Vote

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By Sharon Bernstein

(Reuters) – Voters in five states will consider abortion-related ballot measures in the Nov. 8 election, initiatives that have taken on new urgency after the US Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

In August, voters in conservative Kansas defeated a ballot measure aimed at removing abortion rights from the state constitution. Here’s an overview of the upcoming votes:

CALIFORNIA

A proposal backed by the Democrat-led state legislature and reproductive rights advocates would enshrine the right to abortion in the state’s constitution.

The move would end a longstanding effort by left-wing advocates to protect abortion rights, including recent funding to help people living in states where the procedure is restricted or banned seek care in California.

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VERMONT

Vermont residents will also vote on a constitutional amendment to protect abortion rights. As required by state law, the ballot measure has already been passed twice by the Democrat-controlled legislature.

It is the culmination of actions to strengthen abortion rights, including a new state reproductive rights law, which went into effect in 2019 after the nominations of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court cemented the conservative majority.

MICHIGAN

In the battleground state of Michigan, a proposed constitutional amendment would declare abortion a right.

Reproductive rights groups say such protections would ensure future access to abortion in the state, which has a Republican-controlled legislature and a Democratic governor who will be re-elected in November.

Conservative Republicans in the state had tried to pass a 1931 abortion ban once Roe v. Wade was overturned. But a judge ruled on Sept. 7 that the ban, which made no exceptions for rape or incest, violated the state’s constitution and could not be enforced.

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A recent poll commissioned by Detroit News and WDIV-TV showed that 60% of likely voters in Michigan said they would support a constitutional amendment guaranteeing abortion rights.

KENTUCKY

A measure in conservative Kentucky would find that the state constitution does not protect or recognize the right to abortion.

As of Sept. 13, data on government campaign funding shows opponents of the measure raised about $1.5 million, while supporters brought in $350,000.

MONTANA

In Montana, voters will be asked about a so-called “live-born” law, which would require medical care to be provided to babies born alive after a botched abortion.

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Based on the belief of some anti-abortion activists that babies are left to die after abortion, childbirth or “extraction,” such as cesarean section, the measure reaffirms that all live-born babies in the state are considered legal entities.

Doctors who fail to care for such live babies will be fined up to $50,000 and jailed for up to 20 years. There is limited data on these types of abortions, but the available data suggest that they are rare and likely involve fetuses with serious conditions that make them unlikely to survive.

Other conservative states have passed similar legislation in recent years.

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; editing by Colleen Jenkins and Josie Kao)

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