Ballot initiative would protect access to abortion in Michigan

Posted at 6:04 PM, May 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-05 19:22:05-04

LANSING, Mich. — The Supreme Court opnion leaked earlier this week has set off a firestorm in Michigan. In response to the possibility that the court will overturn Roe v. Wade, organizers have launched a ballot petition that aims to solidify reproductive rights in Michigan.

“In a worst case scenario where the Michigan 1931 abortion ban were to take effect, it would be catastrophic for Michigan patients," said Ashlea Phenicie, a communications manager with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan. “Our research shows that about 2.2 million women and people who can get pregnant would be cut off from abortion.”

That means women who can afford it would need to travel to states like Illinois or New York for care, but poor women could be simply out of luck.

If the initiative gets on the ballot and voters approve it, it would “proactively ensure that there are protections for reproductive freedom, which includes the constitutional right to abortion, your right to use or refuse contraception, your right to prenatal care, postnatal care, all of the reproductive care someone might need in their lifetime to ensure that the right to that care is enshrined in the Michigan Constitution," said Merissa Kovach, a policy strategist with the ACLU of Michigan.

Both Phenicie and Kovach said the effort already has a groundswell of support, with an influx of donations and tens of thousands of volunteers willing to help get signatures.

“We have seen over 15,000 people reach out to put their hands up and that they are willing to volunteer and want to volunteer on this campaign. So it certainly resulted in quite a lot of support," Kovach said.

The vast majority of Michiganders support some form of legal abortion. According to AP VoteCast, 70 percent of Michigan voters in the 2020 presidential election said the Supreme Court should leave Roe v. Wade as it is and 27 percent said the decision should be overturned.

Few voters in Michigan, 12 percent, said abortion in general should be illegal in all cases. Many, 28 percent, said abortion should be illegal in most cases, but a majority — 59 percent — said abortion in general should be legal in all or most cases.

To get the initiative on the ballot in November, supporters will need to gather hundreds of thousands of signatures.

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