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Bridge Michigan
Michigan’s nonpartisan, nonprofit news source

Michigan abortion ballot issue gets surge in volunteers, signatures

abortion right activists
Ballot measures have been plagued by fraudulent signatures this year in Michigan, but a measure to enshrine abortion rights into the state constitution has a “cushion” to withstand challenges, organizers say. (Bridge file photo)

August 1: Michigan abortion ban is — then isn’t — in effect after two court rulings
July 6: Michigan abortion-rights ballot measure has 800k signatures, organizer says

LANSING — The effort to write abortion rights into the Michigan Constitution has gained more than enough signatures to present the issue before voters in November, the campaign told Bridge Michigan on Tuesday.

Merissa Kovach, policy strategist with American Civil Liberties Union in Michigan, said Reproductive Freedom for All constitutional amendment has gathered more than the 425,059 signatures required to present the issue on the ballot.

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The campaign must turn in enough signatures by July 11 to qualify for the November ballot.

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“We are past the threshold, and we are very confident that we are going to have a large cushion,” Kovach said Tuesday.

Kovach said the campaign received a boost in support after the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday struck down Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark case that had guaranteed federal protection of abortion access for nearly 50 years. 

Michigan is one of the states with pre-Roe laws criminalizing abortions, although a Court of Claims judge has issued an injunction blocking enforcement of the law. 

Prosecutors in Kent and Jackson counties this week said they don’t believe the injunction applies to them and would consider prosecuting abortion providers. 

But others, including the Republican-led Legislature, disagree with that interpretation.

Because of the fluidity of the law in Michigan, Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel on Friday said the constitutional amendment is the “best way” to keep abortion legal in Michigan. 

Since Friday, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., rapper Eminem, and others have promoted the ballot measure.

More than 10,000 donors from across the country have given more than $100,000 to the campaign since Friday, Kovach said Tuesday. 

The campaign told reporters Friday it had attracted a total 30,000 volunteers to circulate the petition and collect signatures.

“Our volunteers have exploded,” Kovach said. 

The campaign is asking all volunteers to turn in their signatures by July 1 — 10 days before the deadline — to submit them, she said.

“We have been counting and working on verification as we go,” she said. “We anticipate having rigorous quality control.”

Gubernatorial candidates and campaigns to establish new state laws have struggled to meet the signature requirements this election cycle due to widespread signature forgeries and high signature costs, Bridge previously reported. 

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Loren Khogali, executive director of the ACLU Michigan, told reporters Friday the campaign is preparing for signature validity challenges and is “paying close attention to ensure” the campaign hires none of the contractors involved in the forgery scandal.

“We are anticipating a lot of scrutiny and are confident in the process that we have in place to deal with that,” she said Friday. 

Opponents including Michigan Catholic dioceses, Republicans and others have criticized the amendment as an “anything goes” proposal, saying it would allow abortions late into pregnancies and allow minors to obtain the procedure without parental consent.

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