Michigan coalition launches petition to add abortion rights to state constitution

click to enlarge Abortion rights activists dress up as characters from The Handmaid's Tale at a protest. - Phil Lowe/Shutterstock.com
Phil Lowe/Shutterstock.com
Abortion rights activists dress up as characters from The Handmaid's Tale at a protest.

A coalition of advocacy organizations launched a petition drive Tuesday to amend the Michigan Constitution to affirm reproductive rights, including abortion and birth control.

The goal is to collect enough signatures to trigger a ballot initiative to “explicitly affirm Michiganders’ fundamental right to reductive freedom,” which includes “the right to make and carry out decisions without political interference in all matters relating to pregnancy, including abortion, birth control, parental care, and childbirth,” according to the organizations behind the drive.

That includes Reproductive Freedom for All, a coalition of Michigan Voices, ACLU of Michigan, and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan.

The goal is to override a 1931 Michigan law that criminalizes abortion. The law was rendered unconstitutional following Roe v. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that legalized abortion in 1973.

But the high court is preparing to reexamine abortion rights, and advocates are worried that Roe v. Wade could be overturned.

“Michigan Voices and our partners are excited to begin the signature collection phase of the Reproductive Freedom for All campaign,” Michigan Voices Executive Director Sommer Foster said in a statement Tuesday. “Roe v. Wade is in danger of being overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, and we believe that it is imperative to enshrine in our constitution that the right to comprehensive reproductive care, including the right to an abortion, remains in the hands of patients and their doctors. When politicians impose medically unnecessary restrictions that impact safe access to care, the communities that our partners serve, including people of color, LGBTQ+ folks, and people with low incomes, are most impacted.”

To place the initiative on the ballot, the group must collect at least 424,059 signatures, or 10% of the total votes cast in the 2018 gubernatorial election in Michigan, by July 11.

“The fight for reproductive freedom doesn’t only impact cis women,” Jerron Totten, of LGBT Detroit, said. “Though we know that’s who a majority of legislators have in mind as they perpetuate this kind of violence. The trans-masculine community is also at risk of harm with the possible overturn of Roe v. Wade. This community is already high risk for violence, sexual assault, and discrimination. As a larger LGBT+ community, we must do what we can to protect everyone’s right to make the best decisions concerning their health care.”

If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, Michigan is among 16 states that could lose access to abortion. The Republican-controlled state Legislature never repealed the 1931 law outlawing abortion.

If the law is once again enforceable, nearly 2.2 million Michigan resident could lose their right to an abortion, according to research from Planned Parenthood Federation of America and In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda.

“Empowered women empower women,” Stephanie Williams of Mothers of Hope, a community-based organization that focuses on reproductive justice, said. “Mothers of Hope is committed to our ongoing efforts to fight like hell for reproductive freedom for all women, especially Black women who continue to have the greatest health disparities in outcomes related to health care and access. This ballot initiative is about quality of life, equity, and greater access, especially for the most disenfranchised which is often Black women.”

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About The Author

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling is an award-winning investigative journalist who operated Motor City Muckraker, an online news site devoted to exposing abuses of power and holding public officials accountable. Neavling also hosted Muckraker Report on 910AM from September 2017 to July 2018. Before launching Motor City Muckraker,...
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