LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Voters will decide whether to place abortion rights in the Michigan Constitution, the state Supreme Court declared Thursday, settling the issue a day before the fall ballot must be completed.
Abortion rights would be guaranteed if the amendment passes on Nov. 8. A 1931 state law makes it a crime to perform most abortions, but the law was suspended in May and a judge this week followed up by striking it down as unconstitutional.
Though appeals of that decision are likely, the law would be trumped if voters approve the amendment in the fall election.
A state elections board on Aug. 31 deadlocked along party lines on whether the abortion initiative should appear on the ballot, with Republicans voting no and Democrats voting yes. The 2-2 vote meant the measure wasn’t certified for the ballot.
Supporters submitted more than 700,000 signatures, easily clearing the minimum threshold. But Republicans and abortion opponents argued the petitions had improper or no spacing between words and were confusing to voters.
A group called Reproductive Freedom for All urged the Supreme Court to step in and order the Board of State Canvassers to add it to the ballot. Election officials say Friday is the deadline to finalize the full ballot.
“We will be willing to abide by their decision,” Tony Daunt, a Republican and board chairman, said last week, referring to the Supreme Court.
There are political implications beyond the ballot question itself.
Democrats say the U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is mobilizing voters and will help Democratic candidates this fall, when top races including governor, secretary of state and attorney general are on the Michigan ballot. They point to conservative Kansas, where voters overwhelmingly defeated a measure that would have allowed the Republican-controlled Legislature to tighten restrictions or ban the procedure outright.
Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has asked the state Supreme Court to settle the status of the 1931 law, but the court hasn’t decided whether to intervene.
Burnett reported from Chicago.
Joey Cappelletti is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.
Joey Cappelletti And Sara Burnett, The Associated Press