Where Things Stand: Abortion May Be Directly On The Ballot In Michigan This Fall Too

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SOUTHFIELD, MICHIGAN - OCTOBER 16: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer introduces Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden delivers remarks about health care at Beech Woods Recreation Center October 16, 2020 in Southfield,m Michi... SOUTHFIELD, MICHIGAN - OCTOBER 16: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer introduces Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden delivers remarks about health care at Beech Woods Recreation Center October 16, 2020 in Southfield,m Michigan. With 18 days until the election, Biden is campaigning in Michigan, a state President Donald Trump won in 2016 by less than 11,000 votes, the narrowest margin of victory in the state's presidential election history. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) MORE LESS

A group of pro-abortion activists in Michigan have succeeded in collecting close to double the signatures necessary to get a question on the ballot this fall that, if approved by voters, would codify abortion rights into the state constitution.

The groups behind the citizen-backed ballot effort, ACLU of Michigan, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan and the nonprofit Michigan Voices, collected 753,759 signatures to get the question on the November ballot, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan said today. If the signatures for the ballot initiative are accepted by the Michigan Secretary of State’s office following the Bureau of Elections’ review, it’ll appear on the ballot during the general election in November. The Bureau of Elections, which oversees the process for approving ballot initiatives, will have its next meeting later this month on July 21.

The proposal, called Reproductive Freedom for All, asks Michigan voters to add an amendment to the state constitution that would guarantee Michiganders have the freedom to make their own decisions about abortion care, contraceptives, miscarriage medications and other reproductive health care related needs in the face of the Supreme Court’s recent overturning of the constitutional right to an abortion. The measure also seeks to protect providers and those seeking abortion medication from criminal prosecution.

Without the federal protections that Roe previously provided, Michigan’s 1930s-era outright ban on abortion could soon come back into effect. That law, which bans abortion at all stages of pregnancy unless the pregnant person’s life is in danger, is currently being blocked by the courts as Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) works to invalidate the law. Before Roe was officially overturned last month, Whitmer sued a number of county prosecutors in her state to block local prosecutors from charging people for providing abortions ahead of Roe’s impending demise. She also has asked the state Supreme Court to invalidate the law and enshrine abortion rights into the state constitution.

If the measure does end up going before voters in November, it’ll be one of the first times abortion rights and abortion access is presented directly on the ballot at the state level since Roe was overturned.

There’s a sort of similar situation playing out in Kansas, which my colleague Kate Riga reported on last week. Republicans in the state are seeking to overturn the abortion rights enshrined in the state constitution there with an August primary ballot question that would, if approved, change the language of the Kansas state constitution, which, the state Supreme Court recently found, currently protects the right to an abortion. Abortion supporters are scrambling to turn out voters to repeal the Republicans’ attempt to change the state constitution, including encouraging the wide swath of Kansans who don’t traditionally participate in primary election to vote against the measure.

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