Ahead of Supreme Court ruling on Roe v. Wade, groups plan to put abortion rights on the November ballot

Women’s health and civil rights advocates are gathering signatures to give voters a chance to permanently allow women to have access to abortion in Michigan.


Multiple cases to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court this year could radically change abortion access across the country — especially here in Michigan where the medical procedure would become illegal overnight.

A coalition of women’s health and civil rights advocates are now gathering signatures to give voters a chance to permanently allow women to have access to abortion in Michigan.

Sommer Foster is co-executive director of Michigan Voices, a progressive nonprofit organization. She says a potential Supreme Court decision and 91-year-old Michigan law are reasons for the ballot initiative.

Michigan Voices Co-executive Director Sommer Foster

“Michigan has a 1931 law on the books that would not only ban the right to have an abortion, but also would criminalize the procedure. And so we think that this is the best way to protect your reproductive health in Michigan.” —Sommer Foster, Michigan Voices

Michigan Voices seeks to amplify the viewpoints and experiences of Black, Indigenous and people of color. Will an outright ban on abortion in Michigan disproportionately affect BIPOC women and families?

As we see throughout health care in general, there are great disparities when it comes to women and people of color. And that’s the reason we made this ballot initiative as comprehensive as it can, because we not only seek to protect the right to have an abortion for these folks, but also to protect maternal and fetal health. It’s one of the reasons why the governor early in the pandemic formed the racial disparities task force, because we see wide ranges of disparate disparate treatment with health care in Michigan, when it comes to people of color.

Anti-abortion activists have said women can just carry the fetus to term and then give the child up for adoption. Is that something that you see as feasible?

I think if a person wants to have a child and put it up for adoption, that is certainly the right. But we want the right to make these decisions to be in the hands of the people that need to make them and their doctors and not in politicians.

We’re still in a pandemic, so collecting 450,000 signatures is a bit of work, especially when there’s many other ballot initiatives happening in the state this year.

We certainly are not taking anything for granted. And we know that we are still in the middle of a pandemic, and people are not always wanting to leave their homes right now. But we’ve seen great excitement throughout the state of Michigan, over the fact that this could potentially be on the ballot and a lot of volunteers are ready to hit the streets to collect signatures to move this forward.

What is the overall mood? Is it a sense of, you know, we’re gonna go down swinging, or is it, just kind of being resigned to the fact that the Supreme Court is likely to overturn at least portion of Roe vs. Wade?

I think for most people that we’ve talked to, they want to fight, they want to do something, they want to make sure that we are doing everything possible to protect those rights here in Michigan. So they’re ready to get to work to move this forward. But definitely not taking anything for granted on how easy or difficult this is gonna be.

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  • Russ McNamara
    Russ McNamara is the host of All Things Considered for 101.9 WDET, presenting local news to the station’s loyal listeners. He's been an avid listener of WDET since he moved to metro Detroit in 2002.