A photo of a pro choice protest. The protest sign shown says my body my choice

Montanans and Nevadans signal intent to protect abortion

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The FFRF Action Fund is cheering the fact that Montana and Nevada are joining several other states likely to have a referendum to protect abortion rights in November. 

After the fall of Roe and the looming threat of a second presidential term for Donald Trump, ballot initiatives have become an essential course of action for states wanting to protect abortion accessibility. 

The committee Montanans Securing Reproductive Rights, led by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana, last week submitted more than 117,000 signatures for a proposed amendment, CI-128, enshrining abortion rights in the state Constitution. The group surpassed the 60,359 signature requirement, reportedly collecting more signatures “than any single ballot initiative in Montana state history.” The signatures now need to be checked by local election administrators before heading to the secretary of the state, who will then certify the measure for the November ballot. 

Abortion is currently legal in Montana until fetal viability, around 24 weeks, due to a 1999 legal precedent set by the state supreme court. Republican-led efforts to restrict abortion have been repeatedly blocked in state courts. Enshrining the right to abortion until viability in Montana’s Constitution would considerably curb the state’s anti-abortion campaign and fortify abortion accessibility in case Trump claws his way to a second term. Advocates for CI-128 warn that while abortion might not be in immediate danger in Montana, it could certainly be put at risk, depending on November’s election results. 

CI-128 would amend the Montana Constitution to implement a fundamental right to “make and carry out decisions about one’s own pregnancy, including the right to abortion.” It would also prohibit the government from denying or burdening the right to abortion in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy. The amendment’s language dictates that the government will be able to restrict abortion after viability unless a health care provider determines an abortion is needed to protect the life or health of the pregnant person. 

Support for CI-128 has been robust, and Montanans Securing Reproductive Rights has collected more than $3 million in donations since its launch. However, despite the sizable signatures and donations, the group has faced forceful opposition from a loud, vocal minority. During the months of signature gathering that the organization facilitated, opponents followed signature gatherers with video cameras to harass volunteers and deter signature collection. Most prominently, the anti-abortion political committee, Montana Life Defense Fund, deployed intimidation tactics in an attempt to dwindle the signature collection. Montanans Securing Reproductive Rights has had to alter its signature gathering strategy out of fear of harassment and violence by avoiding large public events or publicizing the addresses of campaign offices. 

Also, Nevada’s secretary of state certified on Friday for the state’s ballot initiative to include an explicit right to abortion. Nevadans for Reproductive Freedom submitted 200,000 signatures in May — nearly double the required needed. Abortion is legal through 24 weeks in Nevada, so this will codify abortion protections. 

The states with possible 2024 abortion ballot initiatives are facing mean-spirited opposition. In Arkansas, a conservative group posted the names of nearly 80 paid signature gatherers online in early June. In South Dakota, the secretary of state’s office claimed an anti-abortion group was impersonating state employees in “scam” phone calls to petition signers, urging them to withdraw support for the state’s abortion ballot initiative. Many signature gatherers have spoken out about protesters following them while volunteering or harassing those who come up to signing tables. One 73-year-old Arkansas volunteer shared that an anti-abortion protester followed her to multiple restaurants and behaved aggressively while she was trying to collect signatures. Opponents in Montana routinely videotaped signature gatherers in various public locations, while others filed complaints with the Commissioner of Political Practices, alleging that Montanans Securing Reproductive Rights organizers were violating signature-gathering policies. 

Nationwide, voters broadly believe abortion should be legal, and abortion rights have prevailed in seven out of seven ballot initiatives since Roe was overturned. The three anti-abortion initiatives that made it to their state’s 2022 ballot in Kansas, Kentucky and Montana all failed after voters largely voted no, while initiatives protecting abortion in California, Michigan, Vermont and Ohio all passed. Montanans will again have the chance to prove they want to protect abortion rights in November. 

As many as 11 initiatives could appear on ballots in November. It is paramount that voters support these initiatives to solidify abortion rights nationwide as the political backdrop grows more and more contentious. 

Here is a comprehensive list of the 2024 abortion ballot initiatives, either confirmed or possible:

  • Arizona: Volunteers are currently gathering signatures. They will need over 380,000 valid signatures by July 4. The measure would dictate that the state cannot ban abortion until viability and would allow abortions later in pregnancy to protect the pregnant person’s health and life. Abortion is currently legal in the first 15 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Arkansas: Volunteers are currently gathering signatures. They will need over 90,000 valid signatures by July 5. The measure would establish a right to abortion in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy and in cases of rape, incest, fatal fetal anomalies and to protect the health and life of the pregnant person. Abortion is currently banned at all stages of pregnancy.
  • Colorado: On November’s ballot. The measure would amend the state constitution to protect abortion rights while also requiring Medicaid and private health insurance to cover abortion. Abortion is currently legal at all stages of pregnancy. 
  • Florida: On November’s ballot, where 60 percent of voters will have to say yes. The measure would protect the right to abortion until viability and when necessary to protect the health or life of the pregnant person. Abortion is currently banned after six weeks of pregnancy.
  • Maryland: On November’s ballot. The measure would guarantee a right to reproductive freedom, including the ability to prevent or end one’s pregnancy. Abortion is currently legal until viability.
  • Missouri: Signatures have been submitted for approval. The measure would protect reproductive freedom, including allowing abortion up to viability. Abortion is currently illegal at all stages of pregnancy. 
  • Montana: Signatures have been submitted for approval. The measure would protect the right to abortion up to viability or when it’s necessary to protect the health or life of the pregnant person. Abortion is currently legal until viability.
  • Nebraska: Volunteers are currently gathering signatures. Volunteers will need over 120,000 valid signatures by July 5. The measure would establish a fundamental right to abortion until viability or to protect the health or life of the pregnant person. Abortion is currently banned after 12 weeks of pregnancy, with limited exceptions. 
  • Nevada: On November’s ballot. The measure would enshrine the right to abortion until viability or to protect the health or life of the pregnant person in the state Constitution. The measure must pass in two successive general elections before it is added to the state constitution. Abortion is currently legal in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy.
  • New York: On November’s ballot despite legal challenges. The measure would bar discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, pregnancy outcome and reproductive health care as part of a broader equal protection constitutional amendment. The amendment’s language does not explicitly mention abortion. Abortion is currently legal until viability.
  • South Dakota: On November’s ballot. The measure would ban any restrictions on abortion in the first trimester. It would only allow the state to prohibit abortion after the end of the second trimester, except when necessary to preserve the life or health of the pregnant person. This ballot initiative was controversial because of its limited scope; however, currently, abortion is banned at all stages of pregnancy.


FFRF Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) organization that develops and advocates for legislation, regulations and government programs to preserve the constitutional principle of separation between state and church. It also advocates for the rights and views of nonbelievers, endorses candidates for political office, and publicizes the views of elected officials concerning religious liberty issues.