Following the Supreme Court's reversal of Roe v. Wade (1973) earlier this year, five states asked voters to weigh in on abortion rights on Election Day: Michigan, California, Vermont, Montana, and Kentucky.
In Michigan, voters considered the Reproductive Freedom For All proposal, which would protect the right for people to make decisions regarding "all matters relating to pregnancy." It would also remove a 1931 law that banned abortion with no exceptions for rape or incest, The New York Times reports. Michigan was expected to pass the initiative as of early Wednesday morning, per NBC.
Both California and Vermont voted on whether to enshrine abortion access into their state constitutions. As of Wednesday morning, it appeared Vermont will pass its ballot initiative, making it the first state to have abortion rights included in its constitution. NBC also predicted that California will follow suit, guaranteeing reproductive rights by law.
Montana's ballot initiative wouldn't impact the state's current access but would require medical intervention to save so-called "born alive" infants. "Voters are being asked to approve a law declaring that an embryo or fetus is a legal person with a right to medical care if born prematurely or survives an attempted abortion," NPR writes, noting that the referendum "would require doctors provide resuscitative care to infants born at any stage of development, or face penalties." With 80 percent of votes in on Wednesday morning, the "no" votes were leading, 52.6 percent to 47.4 percent.
The highest-stakes initiative was in Kentucky. The state was looking to clarify in its constitution that it does not protect abortion rights, likely to prevent challenges to the abortion ban that went into effect following the overturning of Roe. The initiative is very similar to the one Kansas shot down earlier this year.
Like Kansas, Kentucky rejected the initiative on election night in what is seen as a testament to the varying viewpoints between Kentucky residents and the largely conservative government, reports The Associated Press. While this is a victory for the abortion rights movement, the current ban still stands, and not much can be done if the Supreme Court deems it constitutional when challenged.
According to the Pew Research Center, 61 percent of Americans say abortion should be legal in most cases with only 37 percent saying it should be illegal. "I really feel like ultimately people don't want that intrusion on their private lives," Dawn Riley, a 55-year-old independent in Kentucky, told The Washington Post.
Update Nov. 9, 10:50 a.m.: This post has been updated throughout to reflect the latest results.