Proposal 3 passes, etching abortion rights into Michigan Constitution

DETROIT – One hundred and thirty-seven days after the U.S. Supreme Court pushed abortion rights back to the states, Michiganders made their decision.

Proposal 3, the ballot measure for a constitutional “right to reproductive freedom” that broke state records for signatures and campaign donations, will pass, the Associated Press projected at 3:25 a.m.

‘Yes’ votes were leading 55.6% to 44.4% when the AP called it.

Proposal 3 was the most expensive ballot measure fight in Michigan history, as campaign finance reports two weeks before the election showed both sides drew in more than $50 million combined.

Follow the money: Prop 3 fight eclipses $50 million

The measure also broke a Michigan record for most signatures submitted for a constitutional amendment proposal, as leaders turned in more than 750,000 signatures in July.

Despite the support, Proposal 3 almost didn’t make the ballot because of a word spacing error that was resolved by the state Supreme Court.

The ‘No’ side gained ground in polls once the immediate aftermath of Roe v. Wade’s overturning had to fight with economic issues as Michiganders’ top priority. But ‘Yes’ always led in public independent surveys.

An EPIC-MRA poll of likely voters released Friday, for example, found voters favored the proposal 57% to 40%, with 3% undecided.

Proposal 3 guarantees “a fundamental right” to things like “prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, contraception, sterilization, abortion care, miscarriage management and infertility care,” according to the full language that will go into the constitution.

FULL TEXT: Click here to read the full language of Proposal 3

Because of the broad wording, opponents argued the proposal goes dangerously beyond Roe’s protections. The ballot summary said it will “invalidate state laws conflicting with” it, and the opposition has argued that includes dozens of health and safety regulations plus parental consent laws.

But supporters argued the intent is to overrule laws like Michigan’s 1931 abortion ban. That law, which includes only an exception for the mother’s life being at risk, was ruled unconstitutional by a judge in September but could have been OK’d by the Michigan Supreme Court.

“It’s not that abortion is going to be like a free-for-all procedure,” Dr. Aljeeta Sangtani, an Ann Arbor OB-GYN and physician advocate for Proposal 3, told MLive last month. “It’s just going to allow people to continue to practice the medicine that they have practiced in the state of Michigan since Roe.”

Dozens of supporters gathered in downtown Detroit for a watch party Tuesday night, including organizers, door knockers and a pair of county prosecutors – Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald and Washtenaw County Prosecutor Eli Savit.

“There are very few things that scare me. But when I think back to June of this year, I felt real fear. Fear for my own autonomy and my daughters and all women,” McDonald said. “That fear found us all – but it also united us.”

McDonald told the crowd she was standing among “warriors.”

“Our fear quickly turned to outrage,” McDonald said. “And we turned that outrage into action because we’d had enough.”

Multiple people spoke throughout the event. They were cautiously optimistic the proposal would pass, as early returns showed an advantage for the “yes” vote. But the party ended before the race was called in their favor, denying them of a group celebration.

However, the entire night had an aura of celebration, as supporters looked back on their perseverance.

“We’ve worked so hard to get to this day,” said Jerron Totten, social engineer at nonprofit LGBT Detroit. “We’ve knocked doors, we’ve made phone calls, we’ve gotten hung up on, we’ve gotten cussed out. But we pushed through it. So tonight is a celebration for all of us.”

Some of the speakers said they hope their success can be a model for the rest of the country.

Work on the ballot proposal has been in the works since 2021 – long before Roe v. Wade was overturned. But June’s Supreme Court ruling ignited the campaign.

“I know that you all remember where you were when you heard the decision that … Roe v. Wade had been overturned … I will never forget how I felt in that moment,” said Loren Khogali, executive director of the ACLU of Michigan. “My gut dropped into the bottom of my stomach – the anger, the fear and the despair.

“There was no moment of hesitation in my mind. We were going to fight and we were going to take back our damn rights.”

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