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Abortion rights have been decided by voter ballot measures in some states, but this option isn’t available in half of the states

Abortion rights at a rally (Via Mia Johnson/Getty Images)

Inside the West Virginia Statehouse, there is a petition asking lawmakers to allow voters to decide whether to legalize abortion again.

Despite gathering over 2,500 signatures, the petition has been ignored by Republican lawmakers who hold a strong majority in the Legislature. They banned abortions in the state in 2022 after the U.S. Supreme Court removed constitutional protections for the procedure.

Because of West Virginia’s laws, where only lawmakers can propose abortion-related measures, the petition’s impact is limited. This situation highlights the frustration felt by many Americans who lack direct avenues to restore abortion rights, especially as the country marks two years since the Supreme Court’s pivotal decision.

West Virginia is one of 25 states where citizens cannot use ballot initiatives or constitutional amendments to influence statewide policies, including reproductive rights.

A petition to put abortion access on the ballot (Via Mia Johnson/Getty Images)

In other states, such direct democratic tools have allowed voters to counter legislative actions and protect these rights.

Democrats like Delegate Kayla Young, one of few women in the West Virginia Legislature, question why Republicans refuse to let voters decide on abortion rights directly. They believe lawmakers must reflect public opinion on such important issues.

Abortion opponents welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, seeing it as a return of the abortion debate to individual states. Former President Donald Trump, who appointed three justices who supported overturning Roe, has emphasized that this shift empowers “the people” to shape abortion policy.

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