Ever since the conservative majority of the U.S. Supreme Court decided to overturn Roe v. Wade and repeal the national right to abortion, reproductive rights have been one of the most polarizing and pressing issues facing American politics. Immediately after the June ruling, many Republican-controlled states enacted strict abortion bans, while abortion access generally remained in more liberal-leaning areas of the country. Now, several states — California, Kentucky, Montana and Vermont — will ask voters to weigh in concerning abortion.

California and Vermont to vote on solidifying abortion rights

The Supreme Court decision did not directly impact residents of California and Vermont, where abortion access remains legal and generally accessible. Now, voters will decide whether to strengthen these protections. Both states have proposed amendments to their state constitutions that would explicitly acknowledge and protect reproductive rights within these states. Such protections, while not changing current access to abortion services, would make it more difficult for future governments to repeal or limit those rights.

Kentucky and Montana to decide whether to further restrict abortion rights

Meanwhile, Kentucky has proposed to amend its state constitution to explicitly say that the state’s constitution does not “secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.” Kentucky was one of several states that had an anti-abortion trigger law that went into effect when the Supreme Court’s Roe repeal was announced. Kentucky law now bans all abortions — even in cases of rape or incest — except for situations in which the life of the mother is in danger. This is one of the strictest abortion restrictions in the country.

Rachel Sweet, campaign manager for Protect Kentucky Access, explained to Blavity that these policies are relevant for “Black and brown communities and low-income people in the state of Kentucky because we know those are the people who are most impacted by extreme abortion restrictions.”

Concurrently, Montana has proposed the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, which would make it a felony for doctors who do not try to save the lives of infants who are born alive — according to the law’s broad definition of life — during abortion procedures. Opponents of the law argue that existing law already covers these scenarios and that the purpose of the law is to criminalize legitimate medical procedures.

Lessons from surprise Kansas vote outcome

The four November referendums follow a similar vote held earlier this year in Kansas. In a surprising victory for abortion advocates, voters in Kansas — a solidly Republican state — voted in August to reject an amendment to the state’s constitution that would have said that there was no right to abortion access in the state. By rejecting this amendment, Kansas voters kept abortion legal in the state, implying that support for abortion rights, even in red states, remains significant.

Sweet, for her part, predicts a similar outcome in her state. “What we’re going to see in Kentucky in November is that people are not going to stand for these extreme restrictions that put women’s lives at risk,” she said. This direct vote on abortion rights, she argues, “is an ideal opportunity for Kentuckians to make their voices heard.”

Michigan abortion protections remain in limbo

A vote to enshrine abortion rights in the Michigan state constitution, similar to the proposals for California and Vermont, was initially scheduled to be held in November as well. However, the vote has currently been indefinitely postponed after Democrats and Republicans on the Michigan Board of State Canvassers failed to agree on the language and formatting of the proposal. A lawsuit on whether to allow the vote in November is currently pending before the Michigan Supreme Court. This impasse leaves abortion rights in Michigan in a state of limbo. A 90-year-old abortion ban is still on the books in Michigan, but the current Democratic government has refused to enforce it since Roe was overturned, and a state judge recently ruled the old ban unconstitutional.

The votes in all of these states, as well as the many political races in which candidates’ position on abortion has become a main point of debate, will ensure that reproductive rights remain one of the most influential political issues in the country. The fight over abortion, at the state and federal levels, will thus continue past November, but this year’s votes will play a major role in shaping that debate for years to come.