GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan voters have decided to protect abortion rights in Michigan, enshrining them in the state’s constitution.
NBC News is projecting that Proposal 3, also known as the Reproductive Freedom for All proposal, will pass.
The ballot language states that the state will be allowed to regulate abortion after fetal viability but not prohibit it if it is required to protect a patient’s life or mental health. The measure invalidates conflicting state laws already on the books and forbids the prosecution of anyone for seeking, getting or performing an abortion.
The passage of Proposal 3 effectively nullifies Michigan’s 1931 ban on performing abortions in most circumstances. That law had been dormant for nearly 50 years before the U.S. Supreme Court in June overturned its landmark Roe v. Wade ruling and has been in legal limbo since then after Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Planned Parenthood of Michigan filed challenges against it.
“When the Supreme Court signaled that they were going to overturn Roe v. Wade, it was a punch in the gut for so many Michiganders,” Merissa Kovach, the legislative director for ACLU Michigan, said before it was clear the proposal had passed. “We were fortunate that we had launched this initiative in January so that they had something to turn to and something tangible to do, to put their entry into where they could take that power in their own hands.”
New litigation to define the elements of the constitutional amendment are a virtual certainty.
“…We have reproductive rights enshrined in our constitution, and immediately, there’ll be a race to figure out exactly what that means,” Tracey Brame, an associate dean at Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School, explained. “So part of the criticism of the proposal, of course, has been that it’s extreme, that there are terms in the proposal that expand abortion rights far beyond anything that Roe did, that you won’t need parental consent anymore, that there’ll be partial birth abortion, etc., based on the supposed breadth of the language. So there’ll certainly be moves almost immediately to define those terms, try to figure out what they mean, and either expand or retract them, depending on your point of view.”
Opponents had condemned Proposal 3 as “extreme.” Shortly after midnight Wednesday, after NBC News released its projection, they said they were waiting until “every vote is counted.”
“It’s a Trojan horse of policies that are bad for Michigan,” Paul Long of the Michigan Catholic Conference said, pointing to concerns about late-term abortions, parental consent and health and safety measures for abortion clinics.
“We have to be about supporting women,” Long added. “We have to be about providing them with the opportunities that they know they can bring a child to term. Every child should be welcomed in life, every child should be loved. And we think that we need, as a state, to come about and support women in their times of need.”
A spokesperson for Right to Life of Michigan said that the group would hold the backers of the proposal to promises that parental consent would not be affected by the constitutional amendment.
“There’s always something that can be done to progress the pro-life movement in Michigan,” spokeswoman Anna Visser said.