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Bridge Michigan
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Abortion campaign ramps up after Michigan ballot issue clears last hurdle

abortion rally
Known as Proposal 3, Reproductive Freedom for All would make abortion legal, but some opponents say it would also strip existing state laws regulating abortion. (Bridge file photo)
  • Michigan Board of State Canvassers on Friday placed the abortion rights proposal onto the Nov. 8 ballot
  • Abortion rights proponents expect to ramp up advertising and canvassing efforts
  • Anti-abortion groups plan to take message that proposal is too ‘extreme’ to abortion supporters

LANSING — Campaigns about an abortion ballot issue are kicking into high gear now that the proposal is on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.

As expected, the four-member Board of State Canvassers voted unanimously Friday to certify the Reproductive Freedom for All proposal, one day after the state Supreme Court issued an order declaring that the initiative meets legal requirements for the ballot.

Known as Proposal 3, the ballot measure would enshrine abortion rights into the state’s constitution and guarantee legal access to the procedure in Michigan. 

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Backers of the measure will air TV, radio and online ads, conduct volunteer training and ramp up canvassing efforts such as door knocking and phone banking, said Reproductive Freedom for All spokesperson Darci McConnell.

“We are aggressively raising funds,” McConnell said. “We have a robust fundraising effort to support what we need to do to get the best (outcome).”

Opponent groups plan more attack ads blasting the proposal as “too extreme for Michigan,” said Christen Pollo of anti-abortion coalition Citizens to Support MI Women and Children. 

“I think we will see an outpouring of people on both sides of the aisle voting no in November, because … there’s too much in here that’s not supported by voters,” she said.

Abortion has been the center of a monthslong debate in Michigan. 

More than 735,000 Michigan voters signed the petition, the most in state history. But much of the proposal’s impact on existing state laws and the state’s future ability to regulate abortion, however, remain murky, Bridge Michigan has reported.

Anti-abortion advocates have attacked the measure as an “anything goes” proposal that misleads and confuses voters, arguing it would effectively nullify any state law that restricts abortion — like parental consent — and allow abortions later in pregnancy. 

Supporters have hailed the measure as the surest way to keep abortion legal in the state. The campaign claim arguments against the measure are misinformation, arguing the initiative would not nullify existing state laws and pointing out that abortions beyond 21-weeks are extremely rare.

The Reproductive Freedom for All campaign has attracted more than 60,000 people who've indicated they want to volunteer, McConnell said.

Over the next two months, the campaign will focus on informing voters of the consequences of the U.S. Supreme Court’s June reversal of Roe v. Wade, which ended nearly 50 years of federal abortion protections and allows states to regulate the procedure.

Michigan has a 1931 law that was never repealed and would make performing an abortion a felony punishable by up to four years in prison and a $5,000 fine. The law was due to take effect, but a judge has issued a permanent injunction against enforcing the law.

Reproductive Freedom for All had raised almost $10 million by July 20, with almost $3 million from the national American Civil Liberties Union and more than $1.4 million from its Michigan chapter. campaign finance filings show. 

Pollo, of the anti-abortion coalition, told Bridge the campaign will run more TV and digital ads blasting the proposal. The campaign, which had raised more than $400,000 as of July 20, released its first ad last week slamming the abortion proposal language for apparently missing spaces that caused words to bundle together.

Pollo said the campaign saw an “uptick” in volunteers after the Supreme Court ordered Thursday to place the abortion rights issue on the ballot. Thousands have signed up to help, she said.

The campaign will focus on both anti-abortion conservatives as well as those who support abortion but believe the petition is too “extreme,” Pollo said. The campaign will describe the proposal as “too confusing, too extreme, too permanent to enshrine in our state constitution forever,” she said, and that message appeals to both groups of voters. 

Other anti-abortion groups have also ramped up efforts to oppose the initiative. 

Created Equal, a Columbus, Ohio-based anti-abortion group, announced Friday it will use a Jumbotron at Eastern Michigan University on Tuesday to broadcast “what abortion does to its victims.”

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