Vermont is set to become the first state in the US to formally enshrine the right to an abortion in the constitution, after more 70% voted in favour of the measure, projections say.
California, Montana, Michigan and Kentucky also weighed in on the debate during midterm elections.
When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade this summer, it took away federal protection for abortion rights.
Now 13 states ban abortion in most cases, others severely restrict access.
Across the country, one in four voters said abortion was their top issue when deciding how to vote, according to a Reuters exit poll.
“The issue of abortion is now up there with other issues like economy, inflation and gun violence,” said Elizabeth Nash, a policy analyst with the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice research group. “We just haven’t seen this before.”
These five ballot initiatives will change abortion access for millions of people in America. They will also serve as crucial measures of Americans’ support for abortion rights, and the extreme bans that have come into place since the fall of Roe.
According to Pew Research, 61% of Americans think that abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
Like Vermont, the votes in California and Michigan are meant to secure abortion protection, by amending their constitutions to ensure access. In Kentucky and Montana, the measures will do the opposite, aiming to prohibit the procedure outright.
Votes in these states are still being counted.
“This vote is really powerful proof that what we’ve known from research and polling is true: abortion is not political, it’s not partisan” said Angela Vasquez-Giroux, head of communications at NARAL Pro-Choice America. “Most Americans see abortion as an extension of their personal freedom, their bodily autonomy.”