Missouri and South Dakota Move Toward Abortion Rights Ballot Questions

Two more states with near-total abortion bans are poised to have citizen-sponsored measures on the ballot this year that would allow voters to reverse those bans by establishing a right to abortion in their state constitutions.

On Friday, a coalition of abortion rights groups in Missouri turned in 380,159 signatures to put the amendment on the ballot, nearly double the 172,000 signatures required by law. The Missouri organizers’ announcement followed a petition drive in South Dakota that announced on Wednesday that it, too, had turned in many more signatures than required for a ballot amendment there.

Both groups are hoping to build on the momentum of other states where abortion rights supporters have prevailed in seven out of seven ballot measures in the two years since the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which had established a constitutional right to abortion for nearly five decades.

Groups in about 10 other states have secured spots on the ballot for abortion rights measures or are collecting signatures to do so. Those include Arizona and Nevada, swing states where Democrats are hoping that voters who are newly energized around abortion rights will help President Biden win re-election.

South Dakota and Missouri are reliably Republican states. But their bans are among the strictest in the nation, outlawing abortion except to save the life of a pregnant woman.

Missouri, where post-Roe polls show that a majority of voters want abortion to be legal in all or most cases, appears to offer abortion rights groups the bigger chance of success. But both measures face significant hurdles.

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