Michigan Votes To Codify Abortion Rights Into State Constitution

The outcome is a huge win for abortion-rights advocates in a state where abortion had only tenuously remained legal since the fall of Roe v. Wade.
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Michigan voters decided to codify reproductive freedom into the state constitution on Tuesday, according to projections — a huge win for abortion-rights advocates in a state where a pitched battle has raged for abortion protections after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Proposal 3, or the Right to Reproductive Freedom Initiative, will amend the Michigan Constitution by adding language to protect reproductive rights, including the right to abortion care. The amendment comes at a critical time: Not only will it prevent lawmakers from passing any major abortion restrictions in the future, it will nullify a 1931 state law that makes abortion illegal in nearly all cases.

Abortion-rights protesters attend a rally following the United States Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade outside the state capitol in Lansing, Mich., Friday, June 24, 2022.
Abortion-rights protesters attend a rally following the United States Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade outside the state capitol in Lansing, Mich., Friday, June 24, 2022.
via Associated Press

Enforcement of the 1931 law had been blocked by lower courts, tenuously allowing abortion to remain legal in Michigan, but abortion opponents appealed those decisions. The passage of Michigan’s ballot proposal means that pre-Roe ban is dead and abortion care will continue to be protected.

“This is a seismic win for abortion rights in a battleground state,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

“First in Kansas, and now in Michigan and Vermont, voters are rejecting the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe and issuing a clarion call that they want their rights constitutionally protected,” said Northup, adding that this is also a win for people in neighboring states of Indiana and Ohio where near-total abortion bans are in effect.

“When people can vote directly on abortion in a non-partisan ballot initiative, abortion rights win,” Northup said.

Proposal 3 defines reproductive freedom as “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.”

Opponents seized on the words “sterilization” and “infertility care” in an advertisement ahead of the election. Anti-abortion groups argued that Proposal 3 would allow children to get gender-affirming care without consulting their parents — a bold claim that experts told HuffPost last month was simply not true.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel, both Democrats, have continually spoken in support of abortion rights. Until the ballot initiative’s passage, Whitmer all but singlehandedly blocked state lawmakers seeking to severely restrict or ban abortion. She filed a lawsuit against the 1931 law before Roe fell over the summer, seeking to block enforcement of the near-total abortion ban from going into effect. Both Whitmer and Nessel faced tight reelection races against GOP opponents.

In August, Kansas became the first state since the Supreme Court decision to ask voters whether it should further restrict or protect abortion access. In a landmark election, Kansans rejected the anti-abortion constitutional amendment — a massive win for abortion-rights advocates that set the tone nationally.

Voters in California, Kentucky, Montana and Vermont are also voting in the midterms on state ballot initiatives to protect or restrict access to abortion care.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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