LANSING, Mich. (AP) — An anti-abortion coalition in Michigan filed a challenge Thursday against a potential ballot initiative that seeks to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution, alleging that 60 errors in the proposed amendment they should disqualify her from the November ballot. .
The alleged 60 errors have to do with spacing and result in “strings of gibberish,” making the amendment “impossible to understand,” the coalition said in a statement.
The Reproductive Freedom for All ballot initiative would affirm in the Michigan Constitution the right to make pregnancy-related decisions without interference. The campaign submitted 753,759 signatures in July to qualify for the November ballot, which was nearly double the 425,059 needed.
The Elections Office is in the process of reviewing the petition signatures and has until August 26 to submit a staff report outlining its findings and any challenges to the petition. The deadline to contest petition signatures was Thursday at 5 pm.
The status of abortion in Michigan is expected to have a dramatic impact on the November general election in the battleground state, where the state’s Democratic Governor, Gretchen Whitmer, and Attorney General, Dana Nessel, have made the right to abortion a centerpiece of his re-election campaigns.
Nationwide, abortion opponents were shocked and abortion-rights advocates buoyed by a swing statewide vote in heavily Republican Kansas earlier this month in favor of protecting abortion access, but unlikely to translate into new abortion votes in the US in the November election.
Three other states besides Michigan (California, Kentucky and Vermont) could have votes in November on abortion access, and a fifth, Montana, is voting on a measure that would require abortion providers to provide life-saving treatment. life of a fetus born alive after a failed abortion.
The state Board of Electors, an independent body made up of two Democrats and two Republicans, is expected to meet on August 31 to determine whether abortion access will be on the ballot in November. The Citizens to Support MI Women and Children challenge, which has been filed with the Elections Office, calls for the Board of Elections to reject the proposed amendment.
The ballot initiative language was approved by the Board of Elections during a meeting on March 23 with the proviso that an additional “el” be removed from the header. The coalition alleges that the revised version, submitted on March 30, contained errors and was never approved.
Errors identified by the group include “DECISIONS ABOUT ALL MATTERS RELATED TO PREGNANCY” and “POSTPARTUM CARE.”
“Some people would say, ‘Oh, it’s just spaces,’ but amending the constitution is pretty serious business and the right amount of typos to include in your constitution is zero,” Christen Pollo, spokesperson for Citizens to Support MI Women and Children he told The Associated Press.
Richard Primus, a constitutional law professor at the University of Michigan Law School, said he thinks the amendment’s language could be cleaned up and typographical issues wouldn’t cause legal problems.
“There is no reason to think that anyone did not understand what the petition said,” Primus said. “There have been typographical problems with things written for constitutions for as long as there have been constitutions in the United States.”
Darci McConnell, a spokeswoman for the Reproductive Freedom for All campaign, said in a statement that the group is confident the ballot measure meets legal requirements and that a record number of registered voters “have read, understood and signed the petition in support of reproductive freedom for all.
The challenge came on the last day of a state court hearing to determine whether county prosecutors should be blocked from enforcing the state’s pre-Roe abortion ban. A state judge ruled before the hearing that abortion would remain legal in the state until a final decision was made.
This week’s court hearing stems from a restraining order issued by Oakland County Judge Jacob Cunningham earlier this month following a request by attorneys representing Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who favors the right to abortion.
Several county prosecutors had planned to begin enforcing the state’s 1931 abortion ban, triggered by Roe’s fall, after an appeals court ruled earlier this month that a preliminary injunction blocking the law only applied to the office of the attorney general, not the county attorneys who handle most crimes.
Cunningham heard witness testimony Wednesday and Thursday from abortion experts, providers and the state’s chief medical officer.
The decision following this week’s court hearing will only temporarily determine whether county prosecutors can enforce the ban, with a more permanent decision on the legality of abortion in the state expected to come from the Michigan Supreme Court or the voters in the fall.
Joey Cappelletti is a staff member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercover issues.
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