Mon. Oct 2nd, 2023

    Michigan activists submit signatures to put abortion rights on the ballot in November

    If voters support the Reproductive Freedom for All amendment, it would include permanent protections in the Michigan 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 cases. The ban remains blocked by a preliminary injunction from a lower court.

    While just over 425,000 signatures from registered voters in Michigan are required to be eligible to vote, Planned Parenthood, ACLU and the other groups behind the campaign have submitted more than 753,759 and say they collected them from each of the 83 counties of the state.

    Renee Chelian, a voter initiative campaigner who runs a network of abortion clinics and spoke to POLITICO in June about her own pre-roe illegal abortion, called Monday’s signature, “a major step forward to enhance the freedoms and protection of” Roe v. Wade†

    The measure, she said, would give “the right to make a private decision about pregnancy and when to bring new life into the world, back into the hands of pregnant people, not politicians.”

    Progressive activists in Michigan had been planning a ballot initiative for years because they anticipated the crumbling of protection at the federal level. They officially kicked off in early 2022 — after oral pleadings at the Supreme Court convinced many of the fall of Roe v. Wade upcoming wash. As the signature collection got off to a slow start, interest skyrocketed and tens of thousands volunteered after POLITICO published the draft opinion nullifying it. roe the beginning of May. When the ruling came in late June, they shifted into even higher gear: Covering the state to collect signatures at Pride parades, farmers’ markets, libraries, open-air concerts, agricultural festivals and block parties.

    “After the leak, we got 30,000 new volunteers,” Ayoub said. “But in the week-plus since the decision, that has doubled to more than 60,000. We’ve never seen anything like it before. And as the signature collection ends, they are already eager to talk to voters and get this passed.”

    If the amendment passes before the vote, abortion rights advocates and anti-abortion groups expect a tough and expensive battle. Both sides say they will be telebanking, knocking on the door, running ads, holding rallies and mobilizing community groups ahead of November — when the state’s Democratic governor and attorney general are also re-elected.

    “We will launch our massive campaign after the signatures are certified, but we are doing as much as we can now. We don’t want to sit around waiting and missing time to get the news out,” said Anna-Marie Visser, the communications director for Right to Life of Michigan. “We want to educate the public and let them know that even if you’re pro-choice, you shouldn’t want this in the state constitution.”


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