Michiganders to vote on enshrining right to abortion care in state constitution next month

Michiganders will soon vote on amending the state constitution to include the right to reproductive freedom, including the right to obtain an abortion. Michigan is one of 5 states, including California, Kentucky, Montana, and Vermont, with a measure about abortion on the November ballot.

 

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Proposal 3, spearheaded by Reproductive Freedom For All (a group that includes ACLU of Michigan, Michigan Voices, and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan) would establish a state constitutional right to reproductive freedom, “… including the right to make and carry out all decisions about pregnancy, such as prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, contraception, sterilization, abortion, miscarriage management, and infertility.” 

The ballot initiative would allow the state to regulate abortion after fetal viability, but would not prohibit it if abortion care was medically necessary to protect a patient’s life or physical or mental health. It would also prohibit the prosecution of an individual or an individual helping a pregnant person for exercising these rights. 

The measure would also invalidate any conflicting state laws.

This ballot measure comes along with several recent actions taken by the state to protect and ensure access to reproductive healthcare. In July, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order prohibiting the extradition of women and providers who come to Michigan seeking or offering reproductive health care.

Before the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June, Planned Parenthood of Michigan and Whitmer filed lawsuits to block a 1931 Michigan state law that would ban abortions even in the case of rape or incest, which was invalidated when Roe became law in 1973. Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit was granted a preliminary injunction and will temporarily block the 1931 abortion ban from going into effect.  

Since Roe v. Wade’s overturning, Michigan providers have faced fear and confusion over the legality of abortion care in the state, prompting MDHHS to launch a communications campaign to educate providers on state policies regarding abortion.

Proposal 3 has been supported by US Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D – Massachusetts) and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, as well as the Democratic Party of Michigan. 

Nicole Wells Stallworth, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, voiced her support for the ballot measure.

“We have reached a critical moment in history for abortion access in Michigan with the Supreme Court poised to overturn nearly 50 years of precedent and restrict abortion access for 2.2 million Michiganders,” she said in a statement when the Reproductive Freedom for All group first began the ballot petition. 

“The vast majority of Michiganders want abortion to remain safe, legal, and accessible. We are exploring a ballot measure that would preserve every individual’s constitutional right to make the very personal decision about reproductive health care, including abortion and keep those decisions between the individual and their medical professional. We all have the right to determine our own futures.”

Loren Khogali, Executive Director of ACLU Michigan also made comments in support of Proposal 3 when the ballot petition was first filed.

“Michiganders deserve to make reproductive health decisions for themselves, period,” she said in a statement. “Anyone who has had to make the decision about whether or not to have an abortion, no matter the reason, knows to their core that it is deeply personal and should be reserved for them in consultation with their doctor and their loved ones.  Now is the moment for us to come together to protect this fundamental right for Michigan as we hold our collective breath for the Supreme Court’s ruling.  It is an all-hands-on-deck moment, and we will pursue every option available to secure reproductive freedom for all Michiganders. Please join us to protect reproductive freedom for all.”

Citizens to Support MI Women and Children, a coalition in opposition of Proposal 3, says the measure would pose a threat to women and children in the state.

“The [Reproductive Freedom for All] proposed constitutional amendment is not about reproductive freedom, which already exists,” the coalition says on their website. “Planned Parenthood and the ACLU’s amendment would radically distort Michigan’s Constitution to create a new unlimited right to abortion, which would spill over and affect many other issues. This poorly-worded amendment would repeal dozens of state laws, including our state’s ban on tax-funded abortions, the partial-birth abortion ban, and fundamentally alter the parent-child relationship by preventing parents from having input on their children’s health.”

A poll conducted by the Glengariff Group shows that over 60% of Michigan voters will support the proposal, while almost 24% of voters said they would not support the proposal, and 14% of voters said they were undecided.