Ballot drive to protect abortion rights launched in Michigan

·2 min read

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A ballot drive launched in Michigan on Friday would enshrine a woman's right to an abortion in the state constitution, as the U.S. Supreme Court considers weakening or overturning its landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

Reproductive Freedom for All's petition would affirm the right to make pregnancy-related decisions without interference, including about abortion and birth control, supporters said. The groups leading the effort are Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and Michigan Voices.

Michigan still has a 90-year-old abortion ban on its books if Roe is reversed, and Republican legislative leaders oppose Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's request to repeal the law. Michigan is among eight states with unenforced, pre-Roe abortion bans.

The high court last month heard arguments on whether to uphold Mississippi’s ban on abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy. Mississippi has asked the conservative-leaning court to overrule Roe and a follow-up 1992 decision that prevents states from banning abortion before viability, the point around 24 weeks of pregnancy when a fetus can survive outside the womb. Its decision is expected next summer.

Organizers of the ballot initiative need about 425,000 valid voter signatures to put it before the electorate in November.

Nicole Wells Stallworth, the executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, said the vast majority of residents want abortion to remain legal and accessible. The state is at a “critical moment in history for abortion access," she said.

“Now is the moment for us to come together to protect this fundamental right for Michigan as we hold our collective breath for the Supreme Court's ruling,” said Loren Khogali, the executive director of the ACLU of Michigan.

The state's attorney general, Democrat Dana Nessel, and at least one local prosecutor have said they would not enforce the 1931 ban. But Whitmer and Nessel are up for reelection this year, when Republicans are expected to benefit from political tailwinds because the party that controls the White House generally fairs worse in the first midterm election after it assumes the presidency.

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David Eggert, The Associated Press

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