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Foes: Abortion initiative is ‘gibberish,’ should be kept off Michigan ballot

abortion rights rally
The Michigan Board of State Canvassers is slated to determine whether the initiative qualifies for the ballot later this month. (Bridge file photo)
  • Opponents claims there are 43 errors in the abortion rights initiative, citing formatting and spacing issues
  • Organizers of Reproductive Freedom for All say it meets all legal requirements
  • State officials this month should decide if the initiative will be on the Nov. 8 ballot

Aug. 19: Challenges aim to keep abortion, voting proposals off Michigan ballot

Opponents of an effort to add abortion rights to the Michigan Constitution are calling on state elections officials to reject the measure, citing “serious errors” in spacing between words on the petition text circulated to voters.

The group Citizens Supporting Michigan Women and Children on Monday claimed there are 43 errors in the abortion rights Reproductive Freedom for All initiative, citing instances where formatting in the petition language appears to eliminate spacing between words.

Sponsor

A statement from the group stated a formal challenge to the petition would be filed with state election officials this week.

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Examples cited by the group include “DECISIONSABOUTALLMATTERSRELATINGTOPREGNANCY,” “FACTSOFTHECASE,” “INCLUDINGBUTNOTLIMITEDTOMISCARRIAGE,” and “OFTHEFETTUS’SSUSTAINED SURVIVALOUTSIDETHE,” among others.

“The text of the amendment is filled with run-on words that are incomprehensible, making an already confusing amendment impossible to understand,” the group’s spokesperson, Christen Pollo, said in a statement, adding, “There’s no fixing this confusing gibberish.” 

Darci McConnell, a spokesperson for the Reproductive Freedom for All initiative, said the group is confident the initiative complies with all legal requirements. 

“Hundreds of thousands of Michiganders have spoken: more than 730,000 registered voters — a record number — have read, understood, and signed the petition in support of reproductive freedom” McConnell said.

If approved by voters at the Nov. 8 general election, the measure would take effect 45 days later and make abortion and other reproductive care, such as birth control and prenatal care, a constitutional right in Michigan. 

Under the initiative, abortion would be allowed up to fetal viability, at which point the procedures could be regulated by the state. Minors could obtain the procedure without parental consent. 

Anti-abortion groups, such as Michigan Catholic dioceses, Republicans and others, have labeled the proposed amendment as an “anything goes” proposal that goes beyond legalizing abortion in Michigan.

The initiative gained traction after the U.S. Supreme Court in June overturned Roe v. Wade, ending nearly 50 years of federal protections for legalized abortions.

Abortion supporters submitted 753,759 signatures for the ballot measure, more than double the amount of signatures required and the most ever submitted for a ballot proposal in state history. The coalition behind the measure includes ACLU of Michigan, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan and Michigan Voices, a progressive nonprofit. 

Sponsor

Michigan’s Board of State Canvassers is expected to consider whether the initiative submitted enough valid signatures and otherwise qualified for ballot before the end of the month, and any challenges to the petition are due by Thursday.

Currently, abortion remains legal in Michigan, despite an old abortion ban that remains on the books.

The Michigan Court of Claims and an Oakland County Circuit Court judge issued orders suspending enforcement while challenges to the existing law from Planned Parenthood of Michigan and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer make their way through the courts.

Another hearing on Whitmer’s request to extend the abortion injunction is set for Wednesday in Oakland County. The governor is not expected to testify at the hearing, after an appellate court panel on Tuesday refused to reverse a lower-court opinion quashing a subpoena for her to do testify.

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