Even though it was not directly about abortion, Issue 1 in Ohio was kinda about abortion, and the vote on the matter made clear that abortion is still a potent political issue. Turnout in the middle of August for a referendum wasn't that much lower than for a regular gubernatorial election. Democrats understand that they can now turn the tables on the Republicans. During the presidency of George W. Bush, Karl Rove got states to put initiatives on the ballot banning same-sex marriage in order to goose turnout among conservatives. Now Democrats are going to put abortion on the ballot in 2024 to get young voters to the polls.
Case in point: Arizona. Major pro-choice groups there Tuesday launched an effort to put the right to an abortion in the state Constitution. The groups include Planned Parenthood, NARAL, ACLU, and several local Arizona groups. If they get it on the ballot in 2024, that is sure to drive young voters to the polls. While there, many of them are likely to vote for Joe Biden for president and Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) for senator as well. It is the mirror image of what Rove did in the 1990s.
If the ballot measure is approved, abortion would be legal until the point where the fetus could live on its own, outside the mother. That is usually at 22-24 weeks of pregnancy. After that period, abortion would still be allowed to protect the life, physical health, or mental health of the mother. What if a woman 30 weeks pregnant tells her doctor "If this baby is born, I'm going to kill it and then myself." We're not psychiatrists, but OB-GYNs aren't either, and one can imagine one of them seeing this as a mental health issue.
It is not a sure thing that the abortion initiative will make it. The groups working on it estimate that it will cost $40-50 million to get it on the ballot. They have until July 3, 2024, to collect 383,923 valid signatures of registered Arizona voters. Typically groups needing signatures for an initiative try for at least 20% more than they need, since some may be invalid. If the measure gets on the ballot, anti-abortion forces will spend tens of millions of dollars to defeat it, but in every state (so far) where abortion has been on the ballot, the pro-choice forces won. One thing going for the pro-choice team is Gov. Katie Hobbs (D-AZ), who is definitely on their side.
Arizona isn't the only state where pro-choice groups are thinking about ballot measures. It might make the ballot in Florida and Missouri as well. Given the high cost of getting a measure on the ballot, these may or may not succeed. Measures to enshrine abortion in the state constitutions will definitely be on the ballot in Maryland and New York because the legislatures put them there. Measures or not, abortion is definitely going to be a big issue in 2024. (V)