Abortion rights initiatives make the ballot in South Dakota and Colorado


This fall, voters in Colorado and South Dakota will have the opportunity to directly influence abortion rights through ballot measures, reflecting ongoing debates following changes in federal law.

In Colorado, a ballot measure was approved on Friday to enshrine abortion protections into the state constitution. This measure comes as Colorado already has extensive protections for abortion, making it a sanctuary for individuals from states with stricter abortion laws, such as Texas.

Supporters of the measure gathered over 225,000 signatures, nearly double the required number of just over 124,000. If passed, the amendment to the state constitution will need the support of 55% of voters. Karen Middleton, president of the Cobalt Abortion Fund in Colorado, emphasized the need for securing abortion rights beyond political influence.

In South Dakota, a more conservative state, voters will decide on a measure that aims to regulate abortion laws. This measure follows a trigger law that effectively banned nearly all abortions after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. The initiative received support from about 85% of the over 55,000 signatures submitted, surpassing the required 35,017 signatures.

Voters in South Dakota will vote on whether to prohibit the state from regulating abortion before the end of the first trimester. The measure also includes provisions to allow regulation of abortion after the second trimester, except when necessary to preserve the life or physical or emotional health of the pregnant woman.

Dakotans for Health, the group sponsoring the South Dakota amendment, highlighted that the validation of signatures ensures that the people, not politicians, will decide the fate of abortion laws in the state. However, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of South Dakota has expressed concerns that the current language of the measure might not provide a strong legal standard for courts to evaluate abortion laws.

Opposition to the South Dakota measure comes from Republican lawmakers and major abortion rights advocates, who argue against its provisions. The Life Defense Fund, a group organized against the initiative, is continuing to research the signatures and may file a challenge with the secretary of state’s office.

The ballot measures in Colorado and South Dakota are part of broader national debates on abortion rights following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. States across the country, including Florida and Maryland, are also working on similar ballot measures, while others are in the process of gathering support.

In conclusion, the upcoming ballot measures in Colorado and South Dakota highlight the continuing struggle over abortion rights in the United States. Voters will have the opportunity to directly shape these laws in their respective states, reflecting both local attitudes and broader national debates. As the legal and political landscape evolves, the outcomes of these ballot measures will be closely watched by advocates on both sides of the abortion rights debate.


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