Would a referendum on third term abortion be legal in Virginia if the only options were “yes” or “no”?

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    Hi. Welcome to SE.Politics. Your question is rather short, and its not clear whether the second sentence is a question or not. Also, when asking a question here it's useful to do a bit of Googling first to see if there is relevant information, and include the results in your question. Feb 2, 2019 at 18:27

1 Answer 1


A state government can call a referendum about anything it likes. Making it truly binding can be quite hard, as any legislature can always pass a law repealing anything it decided previously. However the California ballot initiative process provides a possible template. This is part of the California state constitution so the legislature cannot overturn the results.

In the case of abortion any such state law would run into the US constitution. The situation is complex and not clearly defined, but the basic principle is that states have to comply with the federal constitution, including any Supreme Court judgements about what the constitution means. Therefore a vote to ban 3rd trimester abortion completely could not be converted into a constitutional law (at least at present), but a vote to make it more readily available could be implemented.

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    The second paragraph is misleading. The US Constitution basically sets the floor on the things states can do. But states can go above that floor. There is currently a federal right to abortion before the 24th week of pregnancy. States can't go lower than that without it being challenged in federal courts. But they can go over it. They can guarantee rights the federal government does not, they can grant stronger ones, etc. They just can't guarantee weaker rights, except for those few things not incorporated against them (grand juries, for example). Feb 3, 2019 at 6:31
  • @zibadawatimmy Good point. Text amended. Feb 3, 2019 at 11:31

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