Bulletin abortion? Not if these Republican legislators can help.

in the legislature Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio And Okla are discussing in this session bills that would increase filing fees, increase the number of signatures required for inclusion on ballots, limit who can collect signatures, provide for a wider geographical distribution of signatures, and raise the voting threshold for passing an amendment from majority to overwhelming majority . While the bills differ in wording, they will have the same effect: limiting the right of voters to overturn Republican restrictions on abortion that took effect after the Supreme Court overturned the law. Row vs. Wadand last year.

With abortion supporters winning all six abortion-related campaigns in 2022, including in conservative states like Kansas and Kentucky, conservatives fear a repeat and are mobilizing to avoid a repeat.

“It was a wake-up call that showed us we have a lot of work to do,” said Kelsey Pritchard, communications director for Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, who plans to spend tens of millions of dollars on a campaign to fight abortion over the course of next two years. “We are going to get serious about these electoral measures, which are often very radical and go far beyond what Caviar ever did.”

In Mississippi, where a court decision froze all attempts to vote in 2021, GOP lawmakers promotion of legislation this would restore the mechanism but prevent voters from putting abortion-related measures on the ballot.

“I think this is just a continuation of the policy of Mississippi and our state leaders that we are going to be a pro-life state,” said the Mississippi Rep. Nick Bain, who introduced the bill in the House of Representatives.

But in most states, the Republican Party’s proposals to tighten restrictions on voting initiatives do not directly target abortion. The drive to change the rules began years before Dobbs decision reversed Rowe vs. Wade in June 2022spurred on by progressive efforts to legalize marijuana, expand Medicaid and raise the minimum wage in several red states, though it has reached new heights over the past year as voters and elected officials clash over abortion politics.

However, some anti-abortion activists fear the trend could backfire by preventing groups from using this tactic to pass their own constitutional amendments through a popular vote.

“In Florida, it’s a double-edged sword,” said Andrew Shirwell, leader of Florida’s Voice for the Unborn, which is working to put an anti-abortion measure on the 2024 ballot. “So we have controversy on this because there is a large contingent of grassroots life advocates who think our governor and legislature have let us down on this for too long and want to take matters into their own hands.”

Percentages on the left use of electoral initiatives to protect or expand access to abortion has skyrocketed since the 2022 midterm elections. Efforts are already under way in Missouri, Ohio and South Dakota to include language restoring the right to abortion in state constitutions, while in several other states human rights activists are mulling their options.

The campaign is moving furthest in Ohio, where abortion rights advocates began collecting signatures this week. A coalition of anti-abortion groups called Protect Women Ohio formed in response and announced a $5 million ad purchase this week to air a 30-second ad suggesting that the proposed amendment would strip parents of the right to decide whether their children should have abortions. and other types of medical care.

At the same time, some Ohio legislators are pushing for an offer this would raise the voter approval threshold for constitutional amendments from a simple majority to 60 percent.

In Missouri, where progressive groups have submitted multiple versions of the abortion rights ballot initiative to state officials, lawmakers are also weighing offers introduce a supermajority requirement and require that the measure be passed in more than half of the Missouri House districts in order for it to take effect.

“It’s about everyone having a voice, including the middle state of Missouri,” said Missouri Right to Life executive director Susan Klein. “We have known for a long time that the threat of legalization of abortion was floating around in different states and eventually came to Missouri. We have prepared hard for this challenge and we are ready.”

In Idaho, legislators even trying require supporters of initiative petitions to collect signatures from 6 percent of registered voters in order to qualify to vote.

“I call these bills ‘death by a thousand cuts,'” said Kelly Hall, executive director of the progressive voting initiative group The Fairness Project. “When you hear about each of them individually, it seems that it is not so important. But taken together, they have a devastating impact on people’s participation in democracy.”

Conservative lawmakers and advocates pushing for the rule changes say they reflect their beliefs about how laws should be drafted, and not just about abortion, but are outspoken about wanting to make it harder to get through sweeping voter protections in California, Michigan and Vermont. entered into force last year.

“I didn’t start this because of abortion, but … Planned Parenthood is actively trying to enshrine the lack of protection for unborn children in constitutions,” the North Dakota state senator said. Janne Myrdal, head of the state legislature’s pro-abortion caucus. “You can sit in California or New York or Washington DC and throw a dart, put a couple of million dollars on it, and you’ll change our constitution.”

permission Myrdal sponsors, which was passed by the Senate last month and is awaiting a vote in the House of Representatives, would require the proposed constitutional amendments to pass twice – in the primary and general elections – and increase the signature requirement from 4 percent to 5 percent of residents. If approved, the proposed changes will appear on the state ballot for 2024.

Major national anti-abortion groups say they formally disapprove of the effort, but support the GOP lawmakers behind it.

“The value of a constitution is starting to diminish if it can be changed at the whim of modern culture,” said Carol Tobias, president of the National Committee on the Right to Life.

Even in states that have yet to take steps to include a measure to protect abortion rights on the ballot, conservative concerns about such a move are leading to unexpected legislative action.

In Oklahoma, anti-abortion leader Loinger tells lawmakers polls show overwhelming support for rape and incest exceptions — as suggested by one member in a bill that its first committee approved last month — and overwhelming opposition to leaving the state ban as it is.

If the state did not have a voting process, he would not support the exemption, he said. But since this threat exists, he argued, “we must not allow the best to be the enemy of the good.”

“The abortion industry has a weapon to defeat what we think is the ideal policy,” Lauinger told lawmakers. “Initiative petition is their trump card.”

Lauinger did not respond to multiple requests for comment. However, the National Right to Life, his organization’s parent group, has told POLITICO that it supports his argument that it’s better to make exceptions for rape and incest than risk a popular vote initiative enshrining the right to abortion in the state constitution.

“This is not betrayal,” Tobias insisted. “If you really look at what we are facing, we can either save 95 percent of all children or lose everything and all children can die. It’s hard not to see the reality.”

Anti-abortion proponents on both sides, however, stress that a fight for the lead vote in Oklahoma is still possible – likely even – whether the state approves exceptions for rape and incest or not.

“They’re probably going to try to do it anyway, no matter what we do,” the Oklahoma Rep. said. Jim Olsen, a Republican who, along with other conservative lawmakers in the state, led an attempt to repeal the Exceptions Bill. “The battle has not yet begun, and we are already retreating.”