Michigan abortion rights proposal rejected by deadlocked elections board

Ballot approval now shifts to the Michigan Supreme Court.

FILE - Elder Leslie Mathews, an organizer with Michigan United, joins Leaders of the Reproductive Freedom for All campaign as they speak to supporters on July 11, 2022, in Lansing Mich., after turning in 753,759 signatures to qualify for Michigan's November ballot.

The pro-abortion Reproductive Freedom for All ballot initiative was not approved by the Michigan Board of State Canvassers on Wednesday.

The board deadlocked 2-2 along party lines, with the Republican members objecting to some words on the petition summary being too close together.

Republican – and board chair – Tony Daunt says that made the petition language gibberish to him.

“If what was circulated had come to us for review, it would not have received approval because of the severe defect in the spacing and in the form of the language as it was laid out,” Daunt says.

Proponents for the Reproductive Freedom for All campaign argued that the Board of State Canvassers didn’t have the authority to deny putting the measure before voters due to word spacing issues.

In a similar split, the Promote the Vote campaign to enhance voting rights and make it easier to vote absentee was denied by the board’s Republicans. The claim was that wording on the petition, which had been previously approved, was unclear.

Ballot approval for the proposed constitutional amendments now shifts to the Michigan Supreme Court.

The Reproductive Freedom for All amendment proposes an explicit state constitutional right to abortions and would prevent any future enforcement of the 1931 state law criminalizing most abortions.

Photo Credit: Joey Cappelletti/AP

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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.