An Abortion Rights Amendment For Michigan Is Back On The November Ballot

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A proposition to secure abortion civil liberties in Michigan is back on the November tally, many thanks to the state's High court.

The proposition would certainly modify Michigan's Constitution, ordering a range of reproductive civil liberties that are presently at risk many thanks to this summer season's U.S. High court choice overthrowing Roe v. Wade.

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With Roe no more effective, states have the power to pass brand-new legislations banning abortion or to implement old restrictions that are still on guides. The last is a specifically genuine opportunity in Michigan, where a 1931 legislation bans abortion at any type of phase of maternity as well as in mostly all scenarios.

The legislation is not being implemented currently, many thanks to numerous reduced court judgments that stop district attorneys from bringing situations. Yet abortion civil liberties challengers have actually appealed those choices.

The goal of the abortion civil liberties amendment is to settle these questions once and for all, so that neither judges nor lawmakers could take away abortion access in Michigan. And that idea appears to have a great deal of support.

A Record Number Of Signatures, Plus A Few Typos

In July, organizers submitted petitions supporting the amendment with more than 750,000 signatures from across the state. That was nearly twice as many as necessary, and consistent with the strong support for abortion rights among Michiganders that recent polling has detected.

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But challengers of the measure said those petitions were not valid, because of what was basically a series of typos: Spaces between some of the words were not readily visible, thanks to a glitch in the printing. This made the petitions incomprehensible, opponents claimed, and thus not valid as proof the amendment had enough support to qualify for the ballot.

Last week, that argument prevailed with the two Republicans who sit on Michigan's four-person election board. The two Republicans voted against authorizing the amendment, producing a deadlock along party lines.

If that had been the final word, the amendment would not be on the November ballot.

But immediately after the elections board voted, the amendment's supporters asked the state Supreme Court to intervene, arguing that the meaning of the amendment was clear even with the compressed words ― and that the elections board had no authority to block an initiative when it so clearly had enough public support.

On Thursday, the court agreed that the amendment's meaning was clear, and ordered the election board to certify the amendment. The board next meets on Friday, which is also the deadline for county clerks to finalize November ballot designs.

Sharp Words In Dueling Opinions

The vote on the seven-member court was 5-2, and in a brief, unsigned opinion, the majority explained that “the meaning of the words has not changed by the alleged insufficient spacing between them.”

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But several justices chimed in with more thoughts ― including Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack, who was part of the majority and wrote a stinging concurring opinion.

“Seven hundred fifty three thousand and seven hundred fifty nine Michiganders signed this proposal ― more than have ever signed any proposal in Michigan's history,” McCormack wrote.

Noting that the challengers produced no evidence that any voters were actually confused by the wording, McCormack accused those opponents of trying to “disenfranchise millions of Michiganders … because they think they have identified a technicality that allows them to do so, a game of gotcha gone very bad.”

Justice Brian Zahra, one of the two dissenters, had some pointed words of his own. He protested the decision to issue a ruling without oral argument, then zeroed in on the substantive dispute ― and why, in his opinion, it mattered.

“The only thing more difficult to discern than the disputed portions of the text of the amendment is why the proponents of the amendment proceeded to circulate a petition that plainly did not conform to the form and content of the petition preapproved by the Bureau of Elections,” Zahra wrote.

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A Legal Decision With Potentially Big Political Effects

The amendment's placement on the ballot could have actually a significant effect on the outcome of other races, by increasing turnout among voters who support abortion civil liberties.

That is likely to help candidates who also support abortion rights ― including incumbent Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) and Attorney General Dana Nessel (D), both of whom are up for reelection and have made abortion a central focus of their campaigns.

It could also help Democrats seeking U.S. House seats, including several in tightly contested races whose outcomes could effectively determine which party controls the chamber starting in January.

The caveat is that the polls could be wrong: The change might not be as popular as it seems. Or sentiments can change as opponents hammer away at it.

If that happens, then the change could fail as well as its supporters running for office could lose ― which, in the case of the governor's race, would mean a victory for Republican Tudor Dixon.

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Dixon has actually claimed she supports the 1931 ban, including its lack of exceptions for rape as well as incest. If there's no new change in the state constitution as well as she's the one in the governor's office, after that abortion could not be lawful in Michigan for a lot longer.

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