April 15, 2024

An amendment protecting the constitutional right to an abortion will go before voters in Michigan this November, a state Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

The court directed the Board of State Canvassers to certify the Reproductive Freedom for All petition for inclusion on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.

The move comes as the fight over abortion rights have been front and center since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark decision in Roe v Wade in June – leaving it up to states to determine whether abortion would remain legal.

Michigan is one of the states at the center of that fight. The state has a 1931 law on the books that bans abortion with no exceptions for rape and incest. A claims court judge on Wednesday declared the law unconstitutional, but the legal battle is ongoing.

Thursday’s 5-2 decision comes after the Board of State Canvassers deadlocked on the petition to include the abortion amendment on the ballot last week. Opponents challenged its inclusion taking issue with the amendment over the lack of spacing between some words. They argued it amounted to gibberish and should not be included. Both Republicans on the board voted against certifying it; both Democrats voted for it.

Abortion Michigan
Abortion rights protesters attend a rally outside the state Capitol in Lansing, Mich., on June 24, 2022, following the United States Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. 

Paul Sancya / AP

But in the majority opinion, the Supreme Court justices said the full text of the amendment was present and regardless of the spacing, all words were there and remained in the same order. 

The group Reproductive Freedom for All submitted the petition this summer with  more than 750,000 signatures, a record number. Following the Supreme Court order, the group said the effort to promote the measure now kicks into high gear. 

“We are energized and motivated now more than ever to restore the protections that were lost under Roe,” said Darci McConnell, the communication director for the Reproductive Freedom for All campaign in a statement. 

Citizens to Support MI Women and Children, the coalition that includes Right to Life of Michigan and other anti-abortion groups, reacted on Thursday by urging voters ot reject the amendment. 

“It falls to voters now to reject this mistake-ridden, extreme proposal on Election Day,” said spokeswoman Christen Pollo in a statement.  “We are confident that a majority will say No to Proposal 3.”

Michigan is one of several states that will put abortion rights before voters after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade. California and Vermont both have ballot initiatives that would protect the constitutional right to an abortion.

Kentuckians will get to decide on an amendment that states there is no constitutional right to an abortion in the state. The ballot initiative in Montana deals with granting personhood protections to fetuses after attempted abortions.

In the August primary, Kansans voted overwhelmingly rejected an amendment 59% to 41% that would have removed the constitutional right to an abortion in the state. If it had passed, it would have paved the way for the GOP-led legislature to pass new restrictions or even ban abortion in Kansas. More than 900,000 people turned out to vote in the primary – a level closer to presidential election turnout in the state.

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