This November, Michigan voters have the opportunity to protect reproductive rights by voting yes on Proposal 3. This vote is our chance to show that Michiganders support the rights of people to make their own decisions about their health care despite the recent regressive actions of the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Proposal 3, which will be on the ballot for the Nov. 8 midterm election, establishes that every Michigander has a fundamental right to reproductive freedoms in the Michigan Constitution. These freedoms include the right to make and carry out decisions about all matters related to pregnancy, including birth control, abortion, prenatal care and childbirth, without government interference. The proposal was introduced by Reproductive Freedom for All, a group dedicated to protecting reproductive rights in Michigan.
The issue of reproductive choice in Michigan has become immensely important ever since the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization which overturned Roe v. Wade. Following the Supreme Court’s decision, support for Proposal 3 surged: Reproductive Freedom for All was able to collect an overwhelming 750,000 signatures from voters across the state.
Codifying abortion access in the Michigan Constitution is critical due to an almost 100-year-old statute in the state constitution that criminalizes nearly all abortions. The 1931 law, which had been invalidated by Roe v. Wade, makes performing an abortion a felony with accompanying jail time unless the mother’s life is in danger.
Currently, the 1931 law is not in effect, since a Michigan Court of Claims judge issued an injunction declaring the rule unconstitutional. However, the judge’s ruling could be appealed by the Republican-controlled legislature, meaning that abortion could be criminalized in almost all cases and health care providers could face years in prison for providing reproductive health care to patients.
Opponents of Proposal 3 have argued that there are certain typos in the bill that should disqualify the proposal. These arguments were rejected by the Michigan Supreme Court, which ruled in a 5-2 decision that these typos did not impact the understanding of the bill, and that by not including the proposal on the ballot they would disenfranchise the hundreds of thousands of voters who signed the petition. The fact that the only argument critics can make about this proposition is that it has typos speaks to the weakness of their argument.
They know that voters, including Michigan voters, overwhelmingly support abortion access and that when put to the voter directly, abortion access, is overwhelmingly protected. Kansas is an example where the typically red state voted against an anti-abortion referendum by a wide 59-41 margin.
Abortion rights is also a defining issue in other races on the Michigan ballot. In the Michigan governor’s race, Republican Tudor Dixon has drawn fire for saying that she does not support abortion, even in cases of rape or incest. Other races, such as the attorney general’s, are also important, as the person in that office can make decisions about the enforcement of anti-abortion laws.
In the days after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, there was a palpable sense of helplessness and despondency about the state of reproductive rights in America. Having the fundamental right to choose, which had been settled law, suddenly stripped away by the Supreme Court was truly gut-wrenching. The idea that the rights of Michiganders could be dictated by lawmakers from almost a century ago was appalling.
Many people, including myself, wondered what we could possibly do to protect reproductive rights and ensure that women have access to the health care they need without their bodies being controlled by an unelected court. Voting for Proposal 3 is a clear and tangible step that Michiganders can take to counteract the dangerous actions of the Supreme Court.
Students will play an important role in the midterm elections, especially Michigan’s. This fall, students at the University of Michigan will have easy access to voting. There will be two satellite clerks’ offices on campus, one at the University of Michigan Museum of Art and one at the Duderstadt Center on North Campus, where students can go to register, update their addresses, get a ballot and vote. Out-of-state students who want to register in Michigan and vote on Proposal 3 are able to do that. This easy access to the ballot box will allow U-M students to make their voices heard in support of reproductive freedom.
Isabelle Schindler is an Opinion Columnist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.