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Right to Life of Michigan lawsuit seeks to overturn abortion rights Proposal 3

Young woman patient at gynecologist appointment consults in medical institution.
Abortion violates fundamental freedoms for women and the “preborn,” and it places health care workers and others in “untenable dilemmas,” Right to Life of Michigan argues in a new federal lawsuit. (Shutterstock)
  • Right to Life of Michigan filed a 36-page lawsuit Wednesday arguing Michigan’s abortion access violates federal constitutional rights for, among others, the ‘pre-born and born following a failed abortion’
  • At issue is Proposal 3, which voters approved last year guaranteeing access to abortion.
  • Also challenged is the Reproductive Health Act, which awaits the governor’s signature.

LANSING — Right to Life, Republican lawmakers and other abortion foes filed suit Wednesday seeking to overturn a voter-approved amendment to the Michigan constitution that guarantees a right to reproductive freedom. 

The federal lawsuit against Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and other state officials seeks to invalidate Proposal 3, arguing the 2022 ballot proposal created an illegitimate "super-right" to abortion that violates the U.S. Constitution.


Among other things, the suit contends "children in the womb" have "an interest in life" that should be protected by 14th Amendment, which prohibits states from depriving any person of "life, liberty or property" without due process of law.


“For the law to turn a blind eye to the existence of this innocent human life and thus deny it the legal protection every human life deserves defies irrefutable biological facts, logic, and commonsense, and it is nothing short of evil,” attorneys wrote in the 36-page lawsuit filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan. 

More than 2.4 million Michigan voters supported Proposal 3 last fall. The ballot measure, approved 57 percent to 43 percent, amended the Michigan Constitution to guarantee a right to abortion in the state months after the U.S. Supreme Court eliminated a federal right by overturning Roe v. Wade. 

The lawsuit is a long shot, as Supreme Court justices allowed states to regulate abortion when they overturned Roe last year. 

Renee Chelian, founder of the abortion provider Northland Family Planning Centers in southeast Michigan, called the suit a “bogus” attack on the voter-approved constitutional amendment.

“Prop 3 was passed and it met the law in every way,” she told Bridge Michigan. “They just don’t like the outcome.”

Renee Chelian
Renee Chelian, founder of Northland Family Planning clinics, called the Right to Life lawsuit “bogus.” (Bridge file photo by Robin Erb)

Plaintiffs in the new lawsuit seeking to overturn Prop 3 include state Rep. Gina Johnsen of Lake Odessa, Rep. Luke Meerman of Coopersville and Sen. Joe Bellino of Monroe — all Republicans — along with a pregnant woman, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Christian Medical and Dental Associations.

The complaint, filed on the same day as Right to Life held a “March for Life” rally at the Michigan Capitol, names Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson as defendants.

A spokesperson for Whitmer called the lawsuit an attempt by “right-wing organizations and radical Republicans” to “once again overturn a constitutionally guaranteed right because they can’t win with voters.”

“Michiganders spoke loud and clear in the last election when they voted overwhelmingly to protect the constitutional freedom for people to make their own decisions about their bodies,” Whitmer press secretary Stacey LaRouche said in a statement. 


The suit comes as Whitmer prepares to sign separate legislation to create a Reproductive Health Act. The governor has said that pending law will build on Proposal 3 by repealing various abortion restrictions, including clinic regulations and a prohibition on automatic insurance coverage. 

The complaint alleges that Proposal 3’s broad guarantee of reproductive rights will make it impossible for a future Legislature to reinstate those regulations, should lawmakers decide to do so at a later date.

“Clearly they had this lawsuit written and ready to go as soon as the RHA was passed,” said Chelian, the Northland Family Planning Centers founder.

The lawsuit also comes one day after voters in Ohio approved a ballot measure that enshrined abortion access in that state’s constitution, similar to Michigan. And in Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, won re-election on a campaign in which he pledged to protect abortion access from Republican-led efforts to limit it.

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