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Where abortion was on the ballot, midterm voters largely signaled support

Kentucky voters have rejected an amendment that would have said the state constitution contains no right to an abortion. Earlier, people rallied on the steps of the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort to encourage voters to vote yes on Amendment 2, which failed.
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Kentucky voters have rejected an amendment that would have said the state constitution contains no right to an abortion. Earlier, people rallied on the steps of the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort to encourage voters to vote yes on Amendment 2, which failed.

Voters in several states where abortion was on the ballot were generally favorable to abortion rights.

This summer's U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning decades of abortion-rights precedent left the issue of abortion rights to the states.

That raised the stakes for voters in several states - including Vermont, California, Michigan, Montana and Kentucky – with abortion-related questions on the ballot this year.

Vermont became first state in the country to amend its constitution to protect "reproductive autonomy," after a large majority of voters cast ballots in favor of it, as widely expected. Abortion already was protected under a state law passed in 2019, but the amendment further shores up those rights by adding protections to the state constitution.

As anticipated, California voters also approved a similar measure protecting the right to abortion.

In one of the most-watched ballot measures on the issue, Michigan residents also voted to amend their state's constitution to protect abortion rights. The initiative appeared on the ballot after surviving a Republican-led challenge on grounds including concerns about the amendment's spacing and formatting.

In a move that could aid efforts by abortion rights groups to overturn two abortion bans, Kentucky voters rejected a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would have explicitly stated it contains no right to an abortion. Such an amendment likely would have thwarted efforts to overturn Kentucky's two abortions bans.

Those laws took effect in response to this summer's U.S. Supreme Court decision, cutting off abortion access in the commonwealth. Abortion rights advocates are challenging those laws, and oral arguments are scheduled before the Kentucky Supreme Court in about a week. In a statement, officials with Planned Parenthood's Kentucky chapter pledged to continue their legal fight.

In Montana, votes were still being counted on what anti-abortion-rights groups describe as a "Born Alive" measure that would require healthcare providers to treat infants born alive at any stage of development, including after an attempted abortion. Reproductive rights groups, who opposed the initiative, noted that Montana law already prohibits infanticide.

In an effort to harness the energy unleashed by this summer's Supreme Court decision, Democrats and abortion-rights groups invested hundreds of millions of dollars to boost candidates who supported abortion rights. Supporters of abortion rights also out-fundraised their opponents in ballot measure campaigns in states including Kentucky and Michigan.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Sarah McCammon
Sarah McCammon is a National Correspondent covering the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast for NPR. Her work focuses on political, social and cultural divides in America, including abortion and reproductive rights, and the intersections of politics and religion. She's also a frequent guest host for NPR news magazines, podcasts and special coverage.
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