Michigan voters will determine whether abortion rights will be added to the state Constitution, the state Supreme Court declared Thursday, ruling the question a day before the November ballot is due.
The right to abortion would be guaranteed if the amendment is approved on November 8. A 1931 state law criminalizes most abortions, but it was suspended in May, and this week a judge struck it down, ruling it unconstitutional.
Although that decision is likely to face appeals, the law would be repealed if voters approve the amendment in the November election.
There are political implications beyond the ballot question.
The Democrats assure that the decision of the federal Supreme Court to repeal the Roe v. Wade is mobilizing voters and will help Democratic candidates this fall when races for governor, secretary of state and attorney general appear on the ballot. They point to Kansas, a conservative state where voters resoundingly defeated a measure that would have allowed the Republican-controlled Legislature to tighten restrictions on pregnancy termination or ban it altogether.
In Michigan, a state board of elections deadlocked along party lines Aug. 31 over whether the abortion initiative should appear on the ballot. The two Republicans on the board voted no and the two Democrats spoke in favor. The tie meant the measure was not certified for the ballot.
Supporters submitted more than 700,000 signatures, far exceeding the minimum requirement. But Republicans and abortion opponents argued that the requests had inadequate or no spacing between certain words and were confusing to voters.
“What a sad sign of the times,” Chief Justice Bridget McCormack said in a brief statement accompanying the Supreme Court order, which was defined by 5 votes for and 2 against.
McCormack said “nobody questions” that each word was legible and in the correct order.
Republican members of the State Board of Voter Promoters “would disenfranchise millions of Michigan voters not because they believe the thousands of Michigan voters who signed the measure were confused by it, but because they believe they have identified a loophole that it allows them to do that,” McCormack said.
The 5-2 majority on the state Supreme Court was made up of McCormack, three other Democratic justices and one Republican. Two Republicans spoke out against it.