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Abortion rights poised to go before Michigan voters this fall as hundreds of thousands sign petition

Michigan voters could have an opportunity to codify statewide protections on abortion rights and reproductive health care later this year, as a citizen-backed ballot proposal advances in the months leading up to November's midterm elections.

The proposal, titled Reproductive Freedom for All, was first introduced to the public in January and gained momentum through a campaign led by the ACLU of Michigan, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan and the nonprofit organization Michigan Voices. 

It calls for an amendment to the state constitution that would safeguard the right to choose to have an abortion, as well as rights to access and use contraception for both temporary and indefinite purposes. The proposal also aims to ensure that everyone who gives birth in Michigan has rights to proper care, and shield people who have miscarriages, stillbirths, and abortions from facing criminal punishment. 

Protesters hold placards, chant, and march through downtown
Pro-choice activists march through the streets of downtown Detroit, Michigan, to protest a leaked document that showed the U.S. Supreme Court was prepared to overturn Roe v. Wade. Matthew Hatcher/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Reproductive Freedom for All received unprecedented support from Michigan residents living in counties across the state, advocates said Monday. The ACLU announced that a petition to add the new initiative to Michigan ballots this November received a "record-breaking 753,759 signatures"  — nearly double the amount required in order for a proposed measure to qualify.

Videos shared on social media Monday showed organizers delivering massive boxes filled with petitions to the secretary of state's office, where they will need to be certified before the proposal officially earns its place on the upcoming ballot.

Although the proposal initially emerged at the top of the year, canvassing efforts picked up in the spring when the U.S. Supreme Court's draft opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade was leaked and widely publicized. The court ultimately voted in kind during its session in June, striking down the landmark 1973 case that established the constitutional right to abortion across the country. 

As expected, a number of states moved quickly to enforce trigger laws previously put in place to restrict or outlaw abortion in their jurisdictions should the court decide to reverse Roe. In Michigan, a temporary injunction allows abortion to remain legal for now, despite a strict trigger ban technically taking effect with the court's ruling. 

The ban, which has been criticized by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, comes from a Michigan law prohibiting abortion without exceptions for rape or incest and criminalizing health care workers who provide services for reproductive care. It was passed in 1931.

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