Politico, July 15, 2018
Jennifer Haberkorn and Rachana Pradhan

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Anti-abortion initiatives on the ballot in West Virginia and Alabama this November could lay the foundation for the states to ban or sharply limit legal abortion as change comes to the Supreme Court.

Both ballot measures were in the works before President Donald Trump nominated conservative Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace the more moderate Justice Anthony Kennedy on the high court. But they take on greater import — and will likely draw far more national attention — given the shifting ideological balance on the court.

“They’re setting the stage for if and when Roe falls,” West Virginia abortion rights activist Margaret Chapman Pomponio said. “The criminal code will immediately be triggered.”

No ballot initiative can outright ban abortion as long as Roe v. Waderemains the law of the land. But the West Virginia and Alabama measures would amend their respective state constitutions to declare that abortion rights are not protected. That would pave the way for conservative state legislatures to ban or restrict abortion if the Supreme Court acts.

It’s too late to get similar measures on the ballot in other states this November, but another burst of activity could happen by 2020, according to Elizabeth Nash, senior state issues manager at the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights. [...]

abortion bioethics health law policy public health reproductive rights women's health