Midterm Elections 2022: How Will These States Vote on Abortion?
Here is how citizens are approaching the abortion ballot initiatives ahead of Election Day.
Americans in five states will weigh in on the issue of abortion at the ballot box in the upcoming midterm elections on Nov. 8.
Polling is available for the three states proposing constitutional amendments to advance abortion: California, Michigan, and Vermont. While surveys in those states indicate strong support for pro-abortion referendums, pro-life campaigns say they see hope for a victory.
At the same time, citizens in Kentucky and Montana are voting on pro-life measures. Kentucky will vote on Amendment 2, which says the state’s constitution does not protect a right to abortion. Voters in Montana will consider Legislative Referendum 131, which says it will protect babies who are born alive after attempted abortions.
These ballot initiatives follow the Supreme Court’s June decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade and freed states to legislate on abortion. They also come after a pro-life amendment recently failed in Kansas.
Here is how citizens are approaching the abortion ballot initiatives ahead of Election Day.
California: Proposition 1
Proposition 1 would amend California’s constitution to explicitly protect abortion. Its text reads: “The state shall not deny or interfere with an individual’s reproductive freedom in their most intimate decisions, which includes their fundamental right to choose to have an abortion and their fundamental right to choose or refuse contraceptives.”
Polls are finding that a majority appear to support the measure.
According to a widely-cited statewide survey by the Public Policy Institute of California in September, 69% of likely voters would vote for Proposition 1. Citing that poll, Louis Jacobson, senior columnist for Sabato’s Crystal Ball, which is run by the University of Virginia Center for Politics, wrote: “Abortion rights are already secure in deep-blue California, and the measure is expected to pass easily.”
In August, a Berkeley IGS Poll found that 71% of California voters would back the referendum.
Catherine Hadro, director of media relations for California’s No on Proposition 1 campaign, expressed hope for a pro-life victory — and highlighted other polls.
“The newest poll from Rasmussen Reports finds support for Proposition 1 has dropped by 7 points since August,” she told CNA, adding that “much of the shift in Californians’ opinions on abortion occurred among women and independent voters.”
In August, a Rasmussen Reports/Real Impact survey found that 66% of California voters supported Proposition 1, including 49% who strongly supported it. Two months later, in October, a Rasmussen Reports/Capitol Resource Institute survey found that support dropped: 59% of California voters said they support Proposition 1, including 42% who strongly support it.
This new finding “means we are within a single-digit striking distance of a victory,” Hadro said. “We are more determined than ever as opposition to late-term abortion gains momentum.”
Both Rasmussen surveys found that fewer than 15% of California voters believe abortion should be legal at any time during pregnancy up to the moment of birth. Proposition 1 would guarantee the right to abort a baby at any point in a pregnancy, according to the No on Proposition 1 campaign.
“Proposition 1 authors have openly admitted that viability language was left out of Proposition 1 ‘on purpose,’ allowing extreme late-term abortions in California at seven, eight, even a full nine months of pregnancy for any reason and fully at taxpayer expense, including for residents of other states,” Hadro said. “We are seeing both in person and in the polls that voters reject what Proposition 1 would allow in California.”
Hadro also pointed to a recent NBC affiliate KGET survey that found 72% of California viewers think Proposition 1 would go too far in expanding abortion.
“Right now, we are seeing our momentum build and our coalition continue to grow,” she said. “The more that Californians learn that Proposition 1 would bring late-term abortion to the state, the more they reject it. We’re on a mission to educate as many Californians as possible ahead of Election Day because we know they do not support late-term abortion.”
California currently allows abortion for any reason before viability, when a baby can survive outside the womb — generally considered to begin around 24 weeks of pregnancy. After viability, California allows abortion when a woman’s life or health is threatened.
The Yes on Prop 1 campaign, a campaign for the amendment led by pro-abortion groups, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Michigan: Proposal 3
Michigan’s proposed constitutional amendment, Proposal 3, promises to advance abortion in that state. On the ballot, the amendment is identified as a “proposal to amend the state constitution to establish new individual right to reproductive freedom, including right to make all decisions about pregnancy and abortion; allow state to regulate abortion in some cases; and forbid prosecution of individuals exercising established right.”
Polling in Michigan finds a majority support the measure.
“Polls have found the citizen-initiated measure leading, and its presence on the ballot may help bolster Democrats at the top of the ballot,” Jacobson at Sabato’s Crystal Ball predicted.
According to a WDIV/Detroit News poll of likely Michigan voters conducted at the end of September, a majority — 61.6% — said they would support the proposal. That support is dropping closer to election day. In October, another WDIV/DetroitDetriot News poll found support decreased, with 55% of Michigan voters saying that they support Proposal 3.
A poll in September, commissioned by the Detroit Free Press, found 64% plan to vote for the ballot measure, while an Emerson College Polling survey of Michigan voters conducted in October found that 52% plan to vote yes on Michigan Proposal 3.
The Citizens to Support MI Women and Children coalition, which is warning voters against the proposal, is focused on educating voters about Proposal 3.
“As voters learn about the confusing and extreme nature of Proposal 3, they overwhelmingly oppose it,” Christen Pollo, the spokeswoman for the coalition, told CNA. “As we go engage in voter contact, we continue to find that people of all political persuasions are concerned about the dangers Proposal 3 poses to the women and children in Michigan. Specifically the fact that it repeals parental-consent laws for children seeking abortion or gender hormone therapies.”
She anticipated a pro-life win.
“Women, children, and parents deserve better than what Proposal 3 is offering us,” she added. “We are confident that Michigan voters will turn out to defeat this extreme proposal with a resounding no vote on election day.”
At the same time, she concluded: “Ultimately, the only poll that matters is the one that happens on election day in the voting booth.”
In Michigan, women can obtain abortions for any reason before viability. After viability, abortion is permitted to save the woman’s life.
Reproductive Freedom for All, which backs Proposal 3, did not respond to multiple requests for comment by time of publication.
Vermont: Article 22
In Vermont, citizens will vote on the constitutional amendment Article 22, also known as Proposal 5, which promotes abortion. It reads: “That an individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the liberty and dignity to determine one’s own life course and shall not be denied or infringed unless justified by a compelling State interest achieved by the least restrictive means.”
This is “also favored to pass,” Jacobson wrote for Sabato’s Crystal Ball. A University of New Hampshire survey, commissioned by WCAX and released in October, found that 75% of Vermont residents said they would support the measure, VTDigger reported.
Mary Hahn Beerworth, the executive director of Vermont Right to Life, told CNA that the outcome is unclear.
“We really have no way of knowing how Vermonters will vote on Proposal 5/Article 22,” she said. Pointing to the poll above, she added: “Kansas thought they would win, according to the polls, and they lost.”
Ahead of Kansas’ vote on a failed pro-life amendment in August, a survey found that more likely primary voters said they planned to vote for the pro-life amendment than those who said they planned to vote against it.
“We are working hard and will continue to work hard all the way through to Nov. 8,” Hahn Beerworth added. “I am confident that whether we win or lose, Vermonters have learned more about unlimited, unregulated abortion and that more Vermont citizens will be more pro-life than before.”
In support of the proposal, Eileen Sullivan, the communications director for Vermont for Reproductive Liberty Ballot Committee, said that Vermont citizens back abortion.
“Reproductive freedom is a Vermont value, strongly supported in all four corners of our state, and should be clearly protected by our constitution,” she told CNA. “Vermonters believe that important reproductive health care decisions should be guided by a patient’s health and well-being, not by a politician’s beliefs.”
Abortion is legal up until birth in the state.
- 2022 midterms