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     By Elisha Brown

Reproductive rights groups in Ohio have spearheaded a drive to put an abortion rights amendment on the ballot. Voters in Arizona and Nebraska also could directly vote on abortion in the future if initiatives succeed. (Jerod MacDonald-Evoy/Arizona Mirror)

Reproductive rights groups in Ohio have spearheaded a drive to put an abortion rights amendment on the ballot. Voters in Arizona and Nebraska also could directly vote on abortion in the future if initiatives succeed. 
(Jerod MacDonald-Evoy/Arizona Mirror) 

Wyoming has banned the use of abortion medication, while the nation waits for a federal judge’s ruling over whether to revoke the decades-old FDA approval of one of the pills, mifepristone. Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon signed into law the medication abortion ban Friday night, while allowing a second near-complete ban become law without his signature, according to our news partners at WyoFile. Both have exceptions for rape and incest but would require police reports, WyoFile reporter Madelyn Beck noted. State officials are already defending a lawsuit that reproductive health care providers and a not-yet-opened abortion clinic filed last year over trigger ban legislation that was effective upon the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe in June. Those same plaintiffs filed a second lawsuit Friday over this most recent near-complete ban law.

Since voters in five states protected abortion rights last year, which states will citizens attempt to put reproductive rights on the ballot during upcoming elections? 

In Ohio, the citizen initiative to put a proposed abortion rights amendment before voters is moving along. The reproductive rights groups who launched the petition are in the signature-gathering stage, and an abortion opponents coalition launched a $5 million ad campaign in the state, according to Ohio Capital Journal. Abortion is currently legal in the state – the Ohio Supreme Court will take up the blocked six-week ban at some point.

Last year, an Arizona initiative failed to make the November ballot, falling short of the required signatures. Arizonans for Reproductive Freedom told Arizona Mirror last month the group plans on campaigning for an abortion rights amendment proposal to appear on the ballot in 2024. However, Republicans in the state Legislature are trying to make it harder for voters to change the state constitution. Abortion is legal up to 15 weeks gestation in the state. 

Nebraska Republican lawmakers have backed 12-week and six-week abortion bans this year. Sen. Megan Hunt, a Democrat, recently introduced two proposals that would let voters decide if abortion should be protected in the state, our colleagues at Nebraska Examiner reported. The  amendments would make reproductive rights – child birth, contraception, abortion or miscarriage care and the like – a fundamental right and add “reproductive freedom” to the Nebraska Constitution as an inherent right, along with life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and the right to firearms. 

“If we deny them the opportunity to vote on this, I think that’s very telling about where the public actually stands on the issue,” Hunt said. About 55% of Nebraskans oppose the six-week ban floating through the Legislature, according to a recent poll. 

Here’s some other news from the states you may have missed from the end of the week:

THE BEAT States Newsroom coverage

Kansas bathroom bill classifies intersex people as disabled

Kansas lawmakers in the House Health and Human Services Committee passed a bill Thursday that would designate intersex people and those with sexual development conditions as disabled and require them to use separate bathrooms and locker rooms outside of the binary options available in most public spaces, Kansas Reflector reported. Senate Bill 180, which aims to classify domestic violence shelters, restrooms and locker rooms as female-only, also functions as a bathroom bill to alienate transgender people, critics said. 

Rep. Mari-Lynn Poskin, a Democrat, said the proposal is a blatant attack on LGBTQ people. Similar bills have been introduced by Republicans in several states, including Arizona, North Dakota and Oklahoma, according to the Reflector. Republican Rep. John Eplee, who added an amendment to the original bill that would make intersex people and people born with sexual development conditions use facilities separate from both men and women, said he expects the bill to be challenged if it becomes law. 


Mississippi expands Medicaid for new moms

Gov. Tate Reeves signed a bill into law Thursday that permanently extends postpartum Medicaid coverage in the state from 60 days to a year, our partner newsroom Mississippi Today reported. After years of the House stonewalling postpartum Medicaid expansion bills despite support of the initiative from the upper chamber, the bill finally passed in both legislative bodies. 

Reeves, a Republican, endorsed the proposal on social media last month after initially saying he “needed more data”  on the effectiveness of a year of postpartum Medicaid for new mothers. The expansion will affect thousands, Mississippi Today noted, given that most people who give birth in the state are on Medicaid. The state has the highest rate of infant mortality, preterm birth and low-birthweight rate in the U.S. Now, 30 states and Washington, D.C. have extended postpartum Medicaid to a year.


Reproductive rights proposals move forward in Colorado, Vermont

Lawmakers in seven states and Washington, D.C. have laws that protect reproductive health care. Similar bills in Colorado, Vermont and Minnesota have been introduced in legislatures this year. For instance, a trio of abortion care bills passed through committee in Colorado last week, according to Colorado Newsline. The Democratic-backed bills would protect patients and providers from out-of-state investigations, ban anti-abortion centers from running deceptive ads and make most insurance plans cover reproductive health services. 

The Vermont Senate passed a bill Thursday that would safeguard physicians who provide abortions from hikes on medical malpractice insurance or suspended medical license, VT Digger, our partner newsroom, reported. Similar to the Colorado bill, the Vermont proposal would make AACs subject to consumer protection and false advertising laws.


THE PULL Commentary from Tennessee

“Democrats are still peeved, though, especially after Rep. Gloria Johnson told the story of how she inadvertently got pregnant in her early 20s but then was diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm. The Knoxville Democrat related her experience in a failed effort to renew abortion rights before the House Health subcommittee.” – Sam Stockard, reporter, Tennessee Lookout


THE PULSE Reproductive rights news across the country

  • Vice President Kamala Harris said Iowa is “on the front lines” of abortion access at a roundtable in Des Moines last week. (Iowa Capital Dispatch.) 
  • North Carolina’s maternal mortality rate exceeded the national rate in 2021. (NC Policy Watch.) 

  • In the 1960s, a group of Protestant and Jewish faith leaders created the Clergy Consultation Service to help people get abortions. (Faith and Leadership.) 


STATE BY STATE Abortion access in the U.S.


Track state-level developments on reproductive rights anytime at News From The States. Send tips and thoughts to ebrown@statesnewsroom.com, and follow her on Twitter @elishacbrown.

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