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Abortion ballot measure: What Proposal 3 would do in Michigan

abortion lansing rally
Proposal 3, sponsored by the group Reproductive Freedom For All, would enshrine abortion rights into the state constitution. (Bridge file photo)
  • The Reproductive Freedom For All proposal will appear as Proposal 3 on the Michigan ballot
  • The proposal would write broad new ‘reproductive freedom’ rights into the Michigan Constitution
  • Opponents argue it would also invalidate other abortion regulations

Oct. 3: Michigan Proposal 3 fact check: No, masseuses won’t give abortions to minors
Oct. 3: Michigan Proposal 3: What changes if abortion becomes constitutional right

LANSING — Michigan voters will decide the future of legal access to abortion in the state when they consider Proposal 3 on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.  

A "yes" vote would write a broad new right to "reproductive freedom" into the Michigan Constitution, invaliding a 1931 abortion ban and potentially other existing regulations.

Sponsor

A "no" vote would leave abortion access up to elected officials in Lansing or judges, who have so far suspended enforcement of the state’s  91-year-old ban under rulings that abortion opponents are appealing to higher courts. 

Related:

The Reproductive Freedom For All ballot committee began its petition drive in the spring and collected more than 735,000 valid voter signatures, an effort energized by a June decision from the U.S. Supreme Court that struck down Roe v. Wade and ended 49 years of federal protections for legal abortion access. 

The bipartisan Board of State Canvassers certified the abortion rights proposal for the ballot on Sept. 9 upon an order by the Michigan Supreme Court, which ruled that the two Republicans on the board had previously overstepped their authority by rejecting petitions over limited spacing between words.

The November ballot will include a summary of the Michigan abortion proposal, but you can read the full petition language here if you want to see it for yourself. 

What the proposal would do

Proposal 3, sponsored by Reproductive Freedom For All,  would amend the Michigan Constitution to:

  • Guarantee that "every individual" in the state has a "fundamental right to reproductive freedom." That would include the right to make decisions about abortion, but also prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, contraception, sterilization, miscarriage management and infertility care. 
  • Still allow elected officials to prohibit or otherwise regulate abortion after a fetus reaches "viability," which is generally considered around 23 to 24 weeks into a pregnancy. However, the state could not prohibit any abortions that a medical professional deems necessary to "protect the life or physical or mental health" of the pregnant individual.
  • Only allow the state to restrict abortion rights if the restrictions are "justified by a compelling state interest achieved by the least restrictive means.”
  • Prohibit the state from penalizing or prosecuting an individual based on "actual, potential, perceived or alleged pregnancy outcomes," including abortion, miscarriages and stillbirths. 

What supporters say

Sponsors and supporters say the proposal would restore rights that Michiganders lost when the U.S. Supreme Court struck Roe v. Wade. Doing so would ensure the state's 1931 ban cannot take effect, ending that ongoing legal fight, according to Reproductive Freedom For All

"It's a common-sense, middle of the road proposal," said Nicole Wells Stallworth, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan. "If we don't have this proposal we don't really have assurances that people have a right to abortion." 

What opponents say

Opponents argue the proposal would also invalidate other existing abortion regulations, including a parental consent law for minors that lawmakers approved in 1991 after a separate petition drive by Right to Life of Michigan. The fate of those laws is murky and may depend on future court rulings.

Sponsor

The amendment "is not about protecting existing rights, but smuggling a radical proposal into the constitution that would repeal or drastically alter dozens of state laws," according to Citizens to Support MI Women and Children

Who is backing the proposal?

Reproductive Freedom for All, the ballot committee sponsoring the measure, is backed by a coalition that includes the ACLU of Michigan, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan and Michigan Voices, a progressive nonprofit.

Who is opposing the proposal?

Citizens to Support MI Women and Children, the committee organized to fight the proposal, is led by Right to Life of Michigan and the Michigan Catholic Conference, both of which oppose legal abortion.

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