Washington, DC — Last week, the New York Times Editorial Board drew attention to the crucial role of ballot measures in protecting abortion rights, calling to further explore direct democracy as a method to protect reproductive freedom following the results of the 2022 midterms. In its opinion, the board stated that “enshrining abortion access in state constitutions through ballot measures is a vital pursuit.”
In response, Kelly Hall, executive director of the Fairness Project, authored a letter to the editor calling for additional defense of the ballot measure process from attacks by state legislators. The Fairness Project helped to pass two state constitutional amendments in Vermont and Michigan last year to protect abortion rights and is exploring additional states where ballot measures could be used for a similar purpose.
Read below for Kelly Hall’s response to the editorial board, which was published in the Times on Monday:
“The editorial board is right. Ballot measures are a critical tool for voters to defend reproductive rights. But the editorial misses one big point: The window of opportunity to use them is already closing.
Reactionary state legislatures are working to shut down the use of citizen-led initiatives in response to progressive victories at the ballot box, and last year’s wins for abortion rights have fueled their ire.
Recent efforts to derail the ballot measure process range from absurd, like arbitrary font size requirements, to prohibitive, like requiring initiatives to pass by a supermajority of voters. Republicans in Ohio and Missouri have already stated their intention to weaken direct democracy this year, following Arizona leaders’ successful attack on ballot measures last year.
Only 23 states currently have a mechanism for voters to pass ballot measures, and even fewer allow citizen-initiated constitutional amendments. We cannot afford for that map to get any smaller. We need more partners in our legal, legislative and electoral movement to ensure that voters can pass their own laws when politicians fail to protect reproductive freedom.”