A Montana voter prepares to cast his ballot

A voter prepares to cast his ballot in a polling station at Hellgate Elementary School on May 25, 2017 in Missoula, Montana.

(Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Montanans Launch Push to Get Abortion Rights on November Ballot

"With 2024 shaping up to be the biggest year ever for abortion on the ballot, it is critical that Montanans can make their voices heard on this issue."

As abortion continues to dominate this year's state and federal political contests, Montanans Securing Reproductive Rights on Tuesday launched a signature collection drive to get a citizen-initiated state constitutional amendment on the November ballot.

Since the right-wing U.S. Supreme Court reversedRoe v. Wade with Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization nearly two years ago, Republican state lawmakers have ramped up efforts to further restrict abortion care—and voters, including residents of red states, have responded by protecting reproductive freedom when weighing in on related ballot measures.

With little hope that the divided Congress will restore nationwide abortion rights, ballot initiatives for the 2024 cycle are ongoing in various states, from Arizona and Florida to Montana, where "a yes vote on Ballot Issue #14 will keep the government out of our personal lives," as the Montanans Securing Reproductive Rights website states.

"This is an exciting opportunity to secure our rights for generations to come. Now is the time to ensure power remains in the hands of the people of Montana, so everyone has the freedom to prevent, continue, or end a pregnancy should they choose," the site adds. "Politicians have no business controlling our bodies and our futures."

After a legal battle with Republican state Attorney General Austin Knudsen, the ballot language is:

CI-128 would amend the Montana Constitution to expressly provide a right to make and carry out decisions about one's own pregnancy, including the right to abortion. It would prohibit the government from denying or burdening the right to abortion before fetal viability. It would also prohibit the government from denying or burdening access to an abortion when a treating healthcare professional determines it is medically indicated to protect the pregnant patient's life or health. CI-128 prevents the government from penalizing patients, healthcare providers, or anyone who assists someone in exercising their right to make and carry out voluntary decisions about their pregnancy.

Montana currently allows abortion care up until fetal viability. In response to a legal challenge from Planned Parenthood of Montana (PPMT), a trial judge in February struck down three laws passed by the Republican-controlled state Legislature in 2021: a 20-week ban, restrictions on medication abortions, and a rule that providers must offer patients an ultrasound.

"We are relieved that Montanans will no longer live with the threat of these harmful restrictions taking effect. But make no mistake, our fight continues," PPMT president and CEO Martha Fuller said at the time. "For years anti-abortion politicians at all levels of government have made banning abortion their number one priority, despite the current protection held in our state constitution."

"During the 2023 Montana legislative session, an onslaught of anti-abortion bills was introduced, passed, and signed into law, and PPMT is working hard to beat back these attacks and more," Fuller continued. "We will never stop working to ensure that all Montanans and those who are forced to travel here for care can access the care they need."

In addition to Planned Parenthood, Montanans Securing Reproductive Rights is a campaign by the ACLU of Montana, the Fairness Project, and Forward Montana. The coalition now needs to collect 60,000 signatures by June 21.

"Anti-abortion extremists have tried to interfere in Montanans' personal healthcare choices again and again. That's totally unacceptable—Montanans deserve to make their own decisions about reproductive care, not have politicians decide for them," the Fairness Project executive director Kelly Hall said Tuesday.

"The Fairness Project is proud and excited to be supporting Montanans Securing Reproductive Rights in their campaign to pass CI-128, especially at a time when abortion rights are under attack," Hall added. "With 2024 shaping up to be the biggest year ever for abortion on the ballot, it is critical that Montanans can make their voices heard on this issue."

Join Us: News for people demanding a better world

Common Dreams is powered by optimists who believe in the power of informed and engaged citizens to ignite and enact change to make the world a better place.

We're hundreds of thousands strong, but every single supporter makes the difference.

Your contribution supports this bold media model—free, independent, and dedicated to reporting the facts every day. Stand with us in the fight for economic equality, social justice, human rights, and a more sustainable future. As a people-powered nonprofit news outlet, we cover the issues the corporate media never will. Join with us today!

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.