Michigan board blocks certification of abortion rights ballot measure, throwing it to the courts
But after Wednesday’s vote, groups supporting the amendment will have to petition the state’s Supreme Court over whether voters can decide whether abortion remains legal in the swing state.
GOP board members voted against approving the measure before the ballot after the anti-abortion group that campaigned against the amendment, Citizens to Support MI Women and Children, argued that spacing and formatting errors in the text that was sent to voters distributed before their signatures invalidated the effort.
“Nonsense can’t be put in Michigan’s constitution,” Eric Doster, the attorney for Citizens to Support MI Women and Children, argued Wednesday. “Real words are required.”
Earlier this month, the Elections Bureau chose not to take up the challenge because it involved an issue beyond its purview, which is “whether there are enough signatures to warrant certification of the proposal.” But the Republicans on the State Board of Canvassers thought otherwise.
‘You wouldn’t take out a mortgage with such a flaw in it. You wouldn’t turn in a thesis with a mistake like that,” said Tony Daunt, the Republican chairman of the board.
Mary Ellen Gurewitz, the Democratic vice chair of the board, strongly disagreed.
“Although the words are compressed, I think it is easy to read. And 700,000 people also found it easy to read,” she said. “We simply do not have the authority to reject this petition based on contentious disputes. That is not within our means.”
The vote casts uncertainty on whether Michigan will join a growing number of states where voters will determine the extent to which abortion remains legal after the fall of Roe v. Wade — with votes slated for November in California, Vermont, Kentucky and Montana. Along with a slew of pending lawsuits and state legislative battles, these voting initiatives have the potential to remake the country’s access card to abortion as the number of states implementing near-total bans has increased.
If the measure is eventually put on the ballot and voters in Michigan approve it, it would create permanent protections in the state’s constitution not only for abortion, but also for other reproductive health services, including miscarriage management, birth control, prenatal care and in – Vitro fertilization . It would also prevent the state’s 1931 abortion ban from going back into effect if state courts uphold it in two pending lawsuits filed by Planned Parenthood and Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The ban, which has no exceptions for rape or incest, remains blocked by a preliminary injunction from a lower court.
Progressive activists in Michigan had been planning a voting initiative for years as they anticipated the fall of Roe v. Wade.
They officially kicked off in early 2022 — after oral pleadings at the Supreme Court have seen many the fall of Roe v. Wade was only a matter of time. As the signature collection took off slowly, interest skyrocketed and tens of thousands of Michiganders volunteered to knock on the doors after POLITICO published the draft court ruling. roe the beginning of May. When the Supreme Court ruling fell in late June, their campaign kicked into even higher gear.
Now, pending court arguments on whether the measure will appear on the ballot at all, both sides are preparing for an intense and expensive campaign between now and November.
Michigan Right to Life has set aside nearly $16 million dollars in TV airtime for ads that oppose the amendment. Michigan Reproductive Freedom for All plans to open field offices in the state as early as this weekend and knock on the doors on Sept. 9.