The Reproductive Freedom for All constitutional amendment will not appear on the November ballot after the Michigan Board of State Canvassers tied on a Tuesday afternoon vote. The decision is expected to be appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court.
The proposed amendment would protect the right to abortion, contraceptives and other reproductive healthcare services in Michigan. The four board members split the vote along partisan lines, with board chair Anthony Daunt (R) and board member Richard Houskamp (R) voting against its placement on the ballot and vice chair Mary Ellen Gurewitz (D) and board member Jeannette Bradshaw (D) voting in favor.
The board is responsible for reviewing nominating petitions and statewide ballot initiatives, certifying statewide elections and overseeing other election practices, such as electronic voting systems. As of Sept. 1, the board has only approved one ballot initiative, which seeks to modify term limit and financial disclosure requirements for state lawmakers.
The tied vote leaves the Reproductive Freedom for All initiative off the ballot. In response, Reproductive Freedom for All, the group which sponsored the proposed amendment, is expected to appeal the decision, calling on the liberal leaning Michigan Supreme Court to put the amendment on the ballot.
Opponents of the amendment have pointed to issues with spacing and errors in the text distributed to signers of the petitions rendered the results invalid. Reproductive Freedom for All lawyer Steve Liedel said that is not a legitimate legal reason to reject it.
Darci McConnell, a spokeswoman for Reproductive Freedom for All, told The Detroit News the group adhered to all laws governing the petitioning process.
“We are confident that we’re in compliance with the legal and statutory requirements for ballot proposals,” McConnell said. “In fact, hundreds of thousands of Michiganders have spoken: more than 730,000 registered voters — a record number — have read, understood and signed the petition.”
Abortion remains legal in Michigan under a preliminary injunction blocking the state’s 1931 abortion ban, issued as part of a lawsuit filed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Whitmer’s suit requests the Michigan Supreme Court consider if abortion access is included in the state constitution.
If the Reproductive Freedom for All initiative is on the November ballot, it needs a simple majority vote to pass. If passed, the amendment would go into effect 45 days after the election. If the petition is not included on the ballot, the Michigan Supreme Court’s decision in Whitmer’s suit would determine whether abortion is constitutionally protected in the state.
Daily Staff Reporter Samantha Rich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org