Peace & Life Referendums
by Rachel MacNair
For updated information starting January 6, 2020, see this constantly-updated website:
The original post was published September 3, 2019, and revisions were added until January 6, when the website took over the function
A reminder: The Consistent Life Network doesn’t necessarily endorse everything said in its blog, since we encourage individual writers to express a variety of views. This is especially so when analyzing elections.
It used to be that when people said campaign season started on Labor Day (first Monday in September), they meant the Labor Day of the year of the election. But in the U.S. our election season has become so long that there are media remarks about the 2020 season starting in earnest now. Certainly, many referendums being put on ballots by initiative petition are already in full swing as far as gathering signatures (and could use help).
I think consistent-lifers have a special contribution to make on referendums. We have insights that can be valuable to the public dialog and education.
Also, there are fellow peace and justice activists who think abortion opponents are in an opposing camp, and of course we aren’t. So activism on referendums could be part of our work to break stereotypes with them and with the media.
And there are fellow prolifers who think we exist to give pro-abortion Catholic politicians a pass on the suppose grounds that “while they may be bad on abortion, at least they’re better on other issues.” This has always been backward, of course; we instead challenge such politicians on their inconsistency. But still, we also challenge politicians who oppose abortion to also consistently oppose other violence. Many of us aren’t as enthusiastic for candidates that other pro-lifers are excited about. Being active on referendums is a way to participate in policy through elections.
We’ve given information about such referendums in previous years in our weekly e-newsletter, Peace & Life Connections, but perhaps more can be done. With some creative juices flowing, we consistent-lifers may find some more marvelous opportunities to offer insight and education through the web, social media, and in our communities.
This list was mainly collected from Ballotpedia for U.S. states; local measures aren’t up yet. There will be some added as legislatures put measures onto ballots, and others subtracted if they get insufficient signatures. Referendums in other countries are also of interest, of course, and I invite people to send us information on them.
Links are included for the sponsoring organizations when I think passing the referendums would advance the goals of the consistent life ethic. I encourage people in those states to consider being active in getting those on the ballot.
I also include referendums I’d like to see get a strong “no” vote. Defeating objectionable referendums is as important as supporting worthy ones. Defeating them by larger margins is better than defeating them by smaller margins, in order to set the tone for what society finds acceptable. I don’t provide links to supporters on those. It’s too early for them to have opponents.
If the creative juices flow and you have ideas or want to write more on any of the topics addressed by these referendums, or if you’re aware of positive or negative information that would be helpful to share with the consistent-life community, then add comments below on this blog page or e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Potential Ballot Measures – U.S. States
To Be Decided November 3, 2020
The Colorado 22-Week Abortion Ban (gathering signatures). Sponsored by Due Date Too Late.
Added 11.20.19: Human Life Protection Amendment (gathering signatures). Sponsored by Protect Human Life Florida
The Kansas Supreme Court has decided that the Kansas state constitution gives an abortion “right,” so Kansans for Life is sponsoring a drive to have the legislature put a state constitutional amendment on the ballot. The signatures on the petition aren’t for directly putting it on the ballot, but for persuading legislators to do so. This allows Kansans to sign online.
Added 09.19.19: Louisiana No Right to Abortion in Constitution Amendment. Called by supporters the Love Life Amendment. It adds to the state constitution: “To protect human life, nothing in this constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.” Promoted by the Louisiana Pro-life Amendment Coalition. Definitely on the ballot, absent a court order otherwise, as it was passed by the state legislature. It was sponsored there by Katrina Jackson, a Democrat.
Michigan pro-life groups are divided on these two measures; since I’m only offering information rather than taking a position, I simply offer the information on both.
The Michigan Fetal Heartbeat Abortion Ban Initiative (gathering signatures). Sponsored by the Michigan Heartbeat Coalition.
The Michigan Dismemberment Abortion Ban Initiative (gathering signatures). Sponsored by Michigan Values Life.
There had been a plan to put a “veto” measure on the ballot to overturn a pro-life law passed by the Missouri state legislature. But such measures have a 90-day deadline and the planners gave up.
The Missouri Medicaid Expansion and Planned Parenthood Funding Initiative (gathering signatures). Filed by a private individual. In addition to Medicaid expansion it provides for the state of Missouri to replace federal funds that Planned Parenthood has lost. There’s another effort for Medicaid expansion without this feature, currently collecting signatures.
The Washington Parental Notice for Abortions Performed on Minors Initiative (gathering signatures). Sponsored by Parents and Students Protecting Minors (PSPM).
Assisted Suicide / Euthanasia
Added 11.20.19: Human Life Protection Amendment (gathering signatures). Sponsored by Protect Human Life Florida (covers both abortion once a heartbeat starts and euthanasia, though explicitly excludes the death penalty)
So far, no referendums on this topic have been found.
War is never directly on the ballot, of course, but there are occasionally issues related to war that could be suitable for our attention.
The Arizona Prevent Mining at Oak Flat Initiative (gathering signatures). Sponsored by Save Oak Flat. Section 3003 of the National Defense Authorization Act 2015 allowed for the copper mining of Apache land of cultural and religious value; the idea was to swap other land for this land that’s to be mined, but the Apache were never asked. Much of the copper would be used in military equipment, which is one reason it went into the military procurement bill.
Missouri No Removal of Historic Memorials without Legislative Approval Initiative (gathering signatures). Submitted by state Republican officials. Called the “Right to Remember” amendment, it would prevent localities from making democratic decisions about such things as war memorials, or even changing names of schools and streets named after war participants. This is not merely glorifying war, but compelling people to do so after they’ve objected. When it’s a Civil War memorial honoring the Confederacy or its officials, an element of racism may also be present.
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While gun control in general is beyond our purview, having military-style weapons available to civilians can be regarded as a war – the mass shootings are mini-wars, and often based on similar reasoning to war. Three relevant referendums in two states:
Florida Ban on Semiautomatic Rifles and Shotguns Initiative (gathering signatures). Sponsored by Do Something Florida
Oregon Ban on Assault Weapons Initiative (gathering signatures). Submitted by a private individual.
Oregon Constitutional Right to Own Semiautomatic Firearms Initiative (gathering signatures). Submitted by two private individuals.
While referendum sponsors don’t admit to racism, the possibility of racism on the part of at least some supporters exists when offering policy against immigrants. Given the cruelty and lethality of current immigration policy, we need to continue taking action. This last July, Kendra Stanton Lee wrote an op-ed entitled The “Pro-Life” Movement Is Silent about Children Dying at the Border. Just a week later, she said instead: I Called the Pro-lifers Silent. Then I Heard Them Roar.
These two measures would add to the cruelty and danger, so if they get on the ballot I think we’d do well to explain what’s wrong with them from a life-affirming point of view.
Massachusetts Prevent Sanctuary Cities Initiative (gathering signatures). Submitted by state Republican officials.
Missouri Cities Required to Cooperate with ICE Initiative (gathering signatures). Submitted by state Republican officials.
And for some clean-up of racism bequeathed by U.S. history, two similar measures:
Nebraska and Utah
Added 09.19.19: The state legislatures of Nebraska and Utah have placed state constitutional amendments on the ballot. Where their constitutions have sections prohibiting slavery and involuntary servitude, there are exceptions for those duly convicted of a crime. The amendments would delete that exception.