Jul 7, 2022 - News

Abortion rights petition blows past signature threshold

Ballot initiative circulator wearing large sign that says "Sign the Petition to Defend Reproductive Rights."
Emily Neville of Belleville, a volunteer circulator for Reproductive Freedom for All, gathers signatures at a June 28 protest. Photo: Samuel Robinson/Axios

The effort to enshrine abortion access in Michigan's Constitution has likely gathered enough signatures to make the Nov. 2 ballot.

Driving the news: The Reproductive Freedom for All ballot initiative is nearing 800,000 signatures, Ann Arbor Council Member Linh Song, who co-chairs the ballot committee, said at a council meeting Tuesday.

  • If certified, that would be the most signatures of any ballot effort in Michigan's history, Song says.
  • "I'm really, really heartened to see the commitment folks are making," Song tells Axios.

Why it matters: Abortion access in Michigan could ultimately come down to the ballot.

  • Abortion care is in limbo following the reversal of Roe v. Wade and an injunction against the state's long-dormant 1931 abortion ban.
  • The initiative needs 425,059 signatures by July 11 to make the Nov. 2 ballot.

What's happening: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel have insisted that a court injunction is currently keeping statewide abortion legal, despite two county prosecutors suggesting plans to enforce the 1931 law.

What they're saying: "We should be the example as a state that the rest of the country can follow," State Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) tells Axios.

  • "I get people's frustrations with being told to vote, especially if elected Democrats aren't putting together a plan for you to vote for," McMorrow says. "My message to voters is you have the ability to take action yourself — Michigan isn't helpless."

What's next: ACLU policy strategist Melissa Kovach told Axios last week the ballot committee plans to submit signatures on the July 11 deadline.

  • The petition will then be reviewed by the The Michigan Bureau of Elections and canvassed by the Board of State Canvassers.
  • "Every initiative needs a large cushion to qualify," Kovach said.
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