The Washington Post

Court puts abortion question on Nov. ballot

- — Kim Bellware and Associated Press

The Michigan Supreme Court on Thursday ruled in favor of adding a proposal to the November ballot enshrining the right to an abortion in the state’s constituti­on, ending a partisan feud that unexpected­ly erupted when a state board refused to approve the question last week.

The decision from the state’s highest court came after a four-member Michigan elections board deadlocked over whether to allow the initiative. Two Republican members on the Board of State Canvassers declined to certify the question, which required three votes, citing objections to the spacing and readabilit­y of the proposal text.

The Reproducti­ve Freedom for All (RFFA) campaign, which submitted more than 700,000 signatures in favor of the ballot question, petitioned the court to “honor the will of the people” and let voters decide. RFFA asked justices to expedite a decision before a Sept. 9 deadline when wording for constituti­onal amendments and legislativ­e referendum­s must be finalized for the November ballot. Final ballots are mailed to overseas and military voters starting Sept. 24.

Antiaborti­on group Citizens to Support MI Women and Children first raised objections to the proposal in August. The group filed a challenge with the state arguing typographi­cal and spacing errors created “strings of gibberish” that should be disqualifi­ed from being placed in the state constituti­on.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, the fight over abortion access has been especially intense in the reliably purple state. A 1931 state law makes it a crime to perform most abortions, but the law was suspended in May and a judge this week followed up by striking it down as unconstitu­tional.

Though appeals of that decision are likely, the law would be trumped if voters approve the amendment in the fall election.

If Michigan voters decide to protect abortion rights, the state will join Illinois and Minnesota as the only states in the Upper Midwest where abortion remains or is likely to remain legal. Those states have already become a refuge for women in that part of the country.

Four other states, including California, Kentucky, Montana and Vermont, will put ballot measures before voters this fall. California and Vermont’s proposals will ask if voters want to enshrine abortion rights into state law, while Kentucky and Montana’s questions ask whether voters wish to adopt laws prohibitin­g abortion.

In August, Kansas voters overwhelmi­ngly voted to reject a ballot measure that would have stripped abortion protection­s from state law.

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