Nevada activists secure signatures for vote on abortion access in November

<span>Abortion rights advocates protest in Reno, Nevada, on 7 May 2022.</span><span>Photograph: Ty O'Neil/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images</span>
Abortion rights advocates protest in Reno, Nevada, on 7 May 2022.Photograph: Ty O'Neil/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Activists in Nevada, a key state in the upcoming US presidential elections, announced on Monday afternoon that they had turned in nearly double the number of signatures they need to get an abortion-related measure on the November ballot.

Nevada currently allows abortions up until fetal viability, or the point at which an infant can survive outside the womb, which is generally pegged to around 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Related: Tracking abortion laws across the United States

Activists are hoping that, by enshrining the right to an abortion in the state constitution, abortion access will be protected from any legislative attempts to limit it.

State officials still need to verify the signatures before confirming the measure will appear on the ballot. If the measure moves forward, Democrats are hoping that it will boost their candidates in the battleground state – particularly Joe Biden, who is currently trailing Donald Trump in Nevada polling.

Ultimately, about a dozen states may vote on abortion rights come November, a prospect that could radically rewrite the map of US abortion access. Organizers in several states – including Arizona, another state that will be hotly contested in presidential election – are still collecting signatures for ballot measures, or have turned in signatures and are waiting for confirmation that their measure will advance to the ballot. At least one measure has already stumbled: in New York, a judge has knocked an abortion rights measure off the November ballot, ruling that state legislators who championed the measure failed to follow protocol.

But in the last few weeks, officials and organizers in several states have announced that voters will get a direct say on abortion rights.


On Friday, a Colorado state official confirmed that voters will get to decide whether to add abortion rights into the state’s constitution. A deep-blue state, Colorado already permits abortion after fetal viability. That’s later than most states – and has made Colorado a haven for both women who are fleeing abortion bans and women who are seeking abortions later on in pregnancy.

Only a fraction of abortions occur after the first trimester of pregnancy. When women do get abortions past that point, they may be facing a medical emergency or learned of a fetal anomaly (many of which can only be detected later on in pregnancy). Abortion providers have also said that, since Roe fell, bans have delayed people’s ability to get abortions and thus pushed them later into pregnancy.


On 1 May, Florida outlawed abortion past six weeks of pregnancy, in effect demolishing the last stronghold of abortion access in the deep south. Now, Florida activists are hoping to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution and restore providers’ ability to help abortion seekers fleeing southern abortion bans.

To succeed, they will need 60% of the vote. That may be a tall order in an increasingly red state.


Like Nevada and Colorado, Maryland already permits abortion. However, if voters pass a measure to enshrine the right to “reproductive freedom” – a potentially broad phrase – into the state constitution, abortion will be shielded the procedure from legislative attacks.

South Dakota

Abortion rights activists in South Dakota, which currently bans abortion, are hoping to revive the right to abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy. Notably, they may face one of the greatest uphill battles out of any ballot measure campaign in the country. Abortion rights are generally popular and have only grown more so in the wake of Roe’s fall, but there are a handful of states where most residents do not support legalizing abortion. South Dakota is one of them, according to recent research from the Public Religion Research Institute.

The measure proposed in South Dakota does not go as far as those of other states. Rather than protecting abortion access until fetal viability, its proposal would allow states to regulate it in the second trimester of pregnancy and prohibit it in the third.