UNITED STATES: In a victory for proponents who had petitioned to place the issue on the November ballot, Michigan’s highest court said on Thursday that voters should have the option of amending their state constitution to safeguard abortion rights.
To get a state constitutional amendment upholding the right to abortion on the general election ballot, the abortion rights advocacy group Reproductive Freedom for All gathered more than 730,000 signatures.
Following a deadlock on the state canvassing board, the group filed an appeal with the Democrat-leaning state Supreme Court last week. The two Democrats voted in favour of putting the amendment on the ballot, while the two Republicans on the canvassing board abstained.
The main reason anti-abortion groups opposed the ballot initiative was that they believed the petition’s content had numerous inaccuracies.
Before the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in June to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that granted nationwide constitutional protection for abortions, proponents of abortion rights in Michigan started a campaign to get the issue on the 2022 ballot.
“We are energized and motivated now more than ever to restore the protections that were lost under Roe,” Darci McConnell, a spokesman for Reproductive Freedom for All, said in a statement.
The decision was the second significant win this week for proponents of abortion rights in Michigan. An abortion prohibition that had been in place since 1931 and did not make any allowances for rape or incest was declared unconstitutional by a state judge on Wednesday, meaning it could no longer be enforced.
Michigan abortion rights advocates began a campaign to put the issue on the 2022 ballot months before the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in June that overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that granted nationwide constitutional protection for abortions.
The ruling was the second major victory for abortion rights supporters in Michigan this week. On Wednesday, a state judge ruled that an abortion ban that had been on the books since 1931, which made no exceptions for rape or incest, violated the state’s constitution and could not be enforced.
Mark Brewer, an attorney who represents several reproductive rights groups in Michigan, said the ballot measure will still be important to ensuring future access to abortion in Michigan because the 1931 court order could be appealed or overturned.
“The best way to protect the right to vote in Michigan is to put it in the state constitution,” Brewer said in an interview.
Voters in Kansas soundly rejected a proposed constitutional amendment last month that would have permitted the state legislature to outlaw abortion. Since Roe v. Wade was overruled by the Supreme Court, it was the first statewide survey of voter opinion on abortion.
Abortion rights will be the subject of statewide referendums in numerous other states, including Kentucky and California, and the contentious governor’s race in Michigan, as well as elections in several other states, will be decided in November.
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