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Abortion rights protesters march in Michigan

Abortion rights activists protest in Detroit, Michigan on June 24, 2022. (Photo: Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images)

'This Is People Power': Michigan Groups Submit Signatures to Put Abortion Rights on the Ballot

Advocates turned in a record-shattering 753,759 signatures to place on the November ballot a proposal to enshrine abortion rights in the Michigan state constitution.

Jake Johnson

Reproductive rights advocates on Monday formally submitted more than 753,000 signatures in support of a citizen ballot initiative that, if approved in November, would enshrine abortion rights in the Michigan state constitution.

"We'll stop at nothing to make sure people have access to the essential healthcare they deserve."

While they still must be officially verified, the 753,759 signatures turned in by the Reproductive Freedom for All campaign far exceeds the 425,000 signatures required to place a measure on the ballot in Michigan. The proposal drew more signatures than any other ballot initiative in Michigan's history, and support came from every county in the state.

According to organizers of the initiative, the constitutional amendment would "affirm that every person has the fundamental right to reproductive freedom, which involves the right to make and carry out decisions without political interference about all matters relating to pregnancy, including birth control, abortion, prenatal care, and childbirth."

"Specifically," the campaign's website notes, "this measure will ensure that all Michiganders have the right to safe and respectful care during birthing, everyone has the right to use temporary or permanent birth control, everyone has the right to continue or end a pregnancy pre-viability, and no one can be punished for having a miscarriage, stillbirth, or abortion."

The effort to put abortion rights on the ballot comes as Michigan's GOP-controlled Legislature is attempting to activate a 1931 law prohibiting abortions in the state.

For the time being, abortion is legal in Michigan with some restrictions. In May, ahead of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, a judge temporarily blocked enforcement of the 1931 ban.

"The vast majority of Michiganders know that abortion is healthcare: Michigan is on the right side of history as we lead the way with Reproductive Freedom for All and intend to ask Michigan voters on November 8 to protect abortion and reproductive rights in Michigan," said Loren Khogali, executive director of the ACLU of Michigan.

"The Supreme Court's overturn of Roe v. Wade will not take away the rights and freedoms of people in Michigan to determine if and when they become a parent," Khogali added. "We will not allow forced pregnancy in our state, nor will we stand by as the devastating impacts of a post-Roe world disproportionately impact people of color, LGBTQ+ communities, young people, low-income people, and those living in rural areas. This is your body, your ballot, your choice."

The record-breaking signature count is the product of years of organizing that took on new urgency following the May leak of right-wing Justice Samuel Alito's draft opinion signaling the looming end of Roe.

Politico, the first outlet to publish Alito's opinion, reported Monday that "while the signature-gathering started off slow, interest skyrocketed and tens of thousands volunteered" after the draft was made public.

"When the ruling came down at the end of June," Politico noted, "they kicked into an even higher gear—blanketing the state to collect signatures at Pride parades, farmers markets, libraries, outdoor concerts, agricultural festivals, and block parties."

Nicole Wells Stallworth, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, said Monday that "supporters from every corner of this state, from every walk of life, are signing up to volunteer, donate, and share their stories to ensure politicians can't interfere in our most personal medical decisions."

"That momentum will power us toward victory in November," said Stallworth. "Every day in every way, we'll stop at nothing to make sure people have access to the essential healthcare they deserve to control their bodies and build their futures."

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