Michigan’s elections board rejected a voter initiative for the November ballot that would codify abortion rights in the state constitution, setting up a legal confrontation at the state Supreme Court.
The four-member Board of State Canvassers was divided along partisan lines, with two Republican members failing to certify the initiative, which required three votes to pass.
Following a flurry of legal back-and-forth in the aftermath of the June U.S. Supreme Court verdict that overruled Roe v. Wade, abortion is still legal in Michigan, a perennial battleground state.
The Michigan Reproductive Freedom for All (RFFA) campaign, which collected signatures for the ballot proposal, has stated that it will challenge the board’s decision.
The RFFA is petitioning the Michigan Supreme Court to order the Board of State Canvassers to perform their duties. “The State Bureau of Elections suggested that the board certify our signatures, despite the fact that it had no standing to act on the language,” the group claimed in a tweet on Wednesday.
Democrats are attempting to gain an advantage with women as Michigan prepares to vote on abortion.
The campaign accused the board of disenfranchising Michigan voters who want to restore Roe and keep Michigan’s reproductive rights that it has had for the previous 50 years.
According to the Detroit News, the board’s chairman, Anthony Daunt (R), took issue with the proposal’s readability and rejected it due to spacing concerns.
Board Vice Chair Mary Ellen Gurewitz (D) disagreed, claiming that because so many individuals signed the plan during the signature-gathering phase, the language had to be visible.
We simply do not have the jurisdiction to deny this petition based on content objections, Gurewitz added.
A state law from 1931 that makes abortion a felony was superseded by Roe but never removed from the books.
Abortion referendums are anticipated to be a boon for Democrats in November, with many Republican candidates and strategists taking note after typically red voters in Kansas this month overwhelmingly rejected an amendment that would remove abortion rights from the state constitution.
The fate of abortion access in Michigan has implications for those in neighbouring states: Only Illinois and Minnesota have protected the right to an abortion in the Upper Midwest; both have reported an influx of patients seeking care after “trigger laws” in neighbouring states went into effect after Roe.