Michigan Supreme Court Puts Abortion Rights Initiative on the Ballot

The Michigan Supreme Court ruled Thursday that an initiative to enshrine abortion rights in the state’s constitution must be placed on the November ballot, overriding GOP election officials’ decision to block the measure even though it received a record number of signatures from residents.

Bridget McCormack, Chief Justice at the Michigan Supreme Court, writes for the majority. dismissed Republican state canvassers’ claim that the ballot initiative is defective due to spacing issues in the text — an objection that campaigners said was a mere cover for the GOP officials’ opposition to the content of the measure.

“Even though there is no dispute that every word appears and appears legibly and in the correct order, and there is no evidence that anyone was confused about the text, two members of the Board of State Canvassers with the power to do so would keep the petition from the voters for what they purport to be a technical violation of the statute,” wrote McCormack.

“They would disenfranchise millions of Michiganders not because they believe the many thousands of Michiganders who signed the proposal were confused by it, but because they think they have identified a technicality that allows them to do so, a game of gotcha gone very bad,” the justice continued. “What a sad marker of the times.”

Loren Khogali, executive director of the ACLU of Michigan — part of the coalition leading the ballot initiative — applauded the court’s 5-2 ruling, which came after rights groups appealed the deadlocked Board of State Canvassers’ vote against placing the measure on the November ballot.

“A good day for democracy and the people of Michigan,” Khogali tweeted. “Get ready to vote Michigan. We have voting rights and reproductive freedom on the ballot.”

If approved, the measure would amend the Michigan constitution with a section explicitly affirming that “every individual has a fundamental right to reproductive freedom, which entails the right to make and effectuate decisions about all matters relating to pregnancy, including but not limited to prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, contraception, sterilization, abortion care, miscarriage management, and infertility care.”

The ballot initiative was years in the making. Signature collection began at the beginning 2022 amid growing concerns about a Supreme Court attack on the constitutional right of abortion care. When the high court’s right-wing majority overturned Roe v. WadeIn June, when many Americans were facing the threat of losing their reproductive health, petition organizing was rampant.

Campaigners eventually collected 753,759 signatures for the Michigan initiative, more than any other ballot measure in the state’s history and far more than the 425,000 required. According to organizers, they obtained signatures from all counties in the state.

“We are energized and motivated now more than ever to restore the protections that were lost under Roe,” Darci McConnell, a spokesperson for Michigan’s Reproductive Freedom for All campaign, saidThursday’s statement.

In the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s June ruling, abortion rights campaigners moved urgently to preserve and strengthen state-level abortion laws as Republican lawmakers emboldened by the end of RoeIt was intended to ban abortion completely. Michigan has had a strict abortion ban since 1931. blocked by the courtsSo, abortion is legal in the state. restrictions.

Michigan isn’t the only state with an abortion-related initiative on the ballot in November. Californians are set to vote on a proposition declaring that the state “shall not deny or interfere with an individual’s reproductive freedom in their most intimate decisions.”

Voters Kentucky and MontanaIn the meantime, the Senate will decide whether to approve Republican-backed antiabortion initiatives.

Kansas voters were elected earlier in the year. overwhelmingly rejectedA ballot measure that would have opened the door to an absolute ban on abortion in the country.