Sep 8, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Voters will decide on abortion access in Michigan

Abortion rights protestors in Detroit

Abortion rights protesters prepare to March through downtown Detroit on June 28, after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Photo: Samuel Robinson/Axios

Voters will decide the legality of abortion in Michigan after the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday to put a proposal to enshrine abortion rights on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Driving the news: The Michigan Supreme Court, which holds a Democratic majority, ruled 5-2 to direct the Board of State Canvassers to certify the ballot initiative making the Nov. 8 ballot.

  • The issue went to the court after Michigan's state canvassing board, made up of two Republicans and two Democrats, was deadlocked last week on whether to certify the proposal after Republicans mounted a last-ditch challenge over formatting issues.

Context: Reproductive Freedom for All, the constitutional amendment proposal which earned the most signatures than any ballot initiative in state history, would enshrine abortion access into law and nullify the state's 1931 abortion ban.

  • An Oakland County judge ruled this week that the 1931 abortion law is unconstitutional, permanently barring county prosecutors from enforcing it, though that ruling is expected to face an appeal.

Between the lines: Attorneys arguing against the abortion proposal highlighted formatting errors like run-on words and spacing issues, which the state elections bureau said could not disqualify it from making the ballot.

  • “This isn’t the first time Republican members of a board of canvassers have tried to undermine the democratic process and overrule thousands of voters, and it probably won’t be the last, and we need to address this problem in the long term,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan, in a statement.
  • "I think it's a distraction to the issue," Nicole Wells Stallworth, executive director, of Planned Parenthood of Michigan, tells Axios.

What they're saying: "Passing RFFA on Nov. 8 is essential to Michigan residents to make their own reproductive health care decisions including abortion keeping their choices private between their families and their doctors," Cassy Jones-McBryde, a women's health activist and organizer in Detroit, tells Axios.

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