Abortion rights advocates, detractors discuss Proposal 3 approval

Published 4:10 pm Thursday, November 10, 2022

MICHIGAN — Voters across the state casted their ballots in favor of reproductive freedom Tuesday.

Proposal 3, also known as the Reproductive Freedom For All initiative, was voted in by Michigan residents.

The proposal will amend the state constitution to establish new individual right to reproductive freedom, including right to make all decisions about pregnancy and abortion, allow state to regulate abortion in some cases and forbid prosecution of individuals exercising established right.

With 98 percent of precincts turned in, the proposal passed with 2,477,707 “yes” votes and 1,895,577 “no” votes.

“This victory is the result of the tireless work of thousands of volunteers, coalition members, medical organizations, and a broad array of allies and advocates, including labor and faith organizations,” said Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan Nicole Wells Stallworth.

The constitutional amendment will: 

  • Establish new individual right to reproductive freedom, including right to make and carry out all decisions about pregnancy, such as prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, contraception, sterilization, abortion, miscarriage management, and infertility; 
  • Allow state to regulate abortion after fetal viability, but not prohibit if medically needed to protect a patient’s life or physical or mental health; 
  • Forbid state discrimination in enforcement of this right; prohibit prosecution of an individual, or a person helping a pregnant individual, for exercising rights established by this amendment;
  • Invalidate state laws conflicting with this amendment.

The proposal was spearheaded by a group called Reproductive Freedom, which formed in January 2022 for the purpose of supporting a statewide ballot initiative to amend the state constitution to create a right to reproductive freedom. In March, the Board of State Canvassers approved the group’s initiative petition and in July, the group submitted 753,759 signatures to the Bureau of Elections. 

After an audit of randomly selected signatures, the Bureau of Elections estimated that the petitions had 596,379 valid signatures and recommended that the Board of State Canvassers place the initiative on the November 2022 ballot. 

However, a group called Citizens to Support MI Women and Children submitted a challenge to the petition, arguing that a lack of spacing between words had made nonsense of several phrases. The Board of State Canvassers deadlocked on this question at its August 31 meeting, and the proposal was not approved for the ballot. 

Reproductive Freedom for All filed a lawsuit with the Michigan Supreme Court challenging this result, and on September 8 the court ruled that the spacing issue did not affect the meaning of the amendment’s full text and that the Board of State Canvassers had a clear legal duty to certify the petition. On Sept. 9, the board unanimously certified that the initiative had received enough valid signatures and must be placed on the ballot as Proposal 22-3.

“This campaign was the first of its kind,” said Executive Director of Michigan Voices Sommer Foster. “We were one of 5 states where abortion was on the ballot this year. But Michigan is now the first state in the nation to pass an affirmative citizen-initiated constitutional amendment to guarantee the right to an abortion.” 

According to the Michigan Constitution, a proposed constitutional amendment approved by the majority of voters will take effect 45 days after the date of the election in which the proposal passed, which means Proposal 3 should take effect by Dec. 23.

“Proposal 3’s passage marks an historic victory for abortion access in our state and in our country – and Michigan has paved the way for future efforts to restore the rights and protections of Roe v. Wade nationwide,” said ACLU Michigan Executive Director Loren Khogali.

Right to Life of Michigan reacts to passage of Proposal 3

Barbara Listing, President of Right to Life of Michigan, released a statement regarding the passage of Proposal 3 by Michigan voters.

“We are deeply saddened by the tragic passage of one of the most dangerous ballot proposals to face voters in Michigan history, Proposal 3. Right to Life of Michigan staff, our statewide affiliates, thousands of volunteers and donors and our many state and local partners selflessly sacrificed their time, talent, and treasure to educate voters on this extreme proposal, standing courageously for the dignity of human life and parental rights. Our efforts to educate voters on the true threats of Proposal 3 faced incredible odds that were ultimately insurmountable.”

Listing said the larger coalition to defeat Proposal 3 was outspent by a margin of more than two to one and claimed the free press has mounted “an unprecedented deluge of one-sided advocacy” designed to pass Proposal 3.

“This was a shameful disservice to our democratic process and Michigan voters seeking the truth,” she said. “Michigan voters accepted assurances Proposal 3 did nothing more than repeal the 1931 law. RLM will hold proponents of this amendment to that commitment.”

Listing said that RLM will continue to work toward its mission.

“While our hearts are saddened, our resolve to courageously, peacefully advocate for the dignity of human life is not weakened,” she said. “History is on the side of those who stand to defend the vulnerable, even when it is not easy. May we never accept the lie that standing up for the dignity of human life is somehow extreme, a political liability, or not worth the cost.

In the days ahead, RLM will redouble our efforts to work across Michigan communities to protect the dignity of all human life.”