Because the abortion battle returns to the states, Michigan is on the entrance strains — in courtrooms and campaigns

“I don’t think a lot of people know that Michigan will be 91 years back to have a law that would make this pro-choice state one of the most extreme states in the country,” Whitmer told CNN. “No exceptions for rape, no exceptions for incest. This is how serious this moment is and how dramatic life can be subverted in Michigan.”

Here, in Michigan, it’s been a fight on two fronts – in the courtrooms where Whitmer has challenged the law, and in campaigns, both in her re-election bid and in one separate effort to ask voters to include abortion rights in the state constitution in the November vote.

Whitmer first filed the lawsuit in April, asking the Michigan Supreme Court to overturn a 1931 law that made almost all abortions a felony, with possible prison sentences of up to four years for doctor and pregnant woman. Her move precedes the US Supreme Court’s decision last week that formally brought the controversial issue back to the states – and pushed it to the forefront of her bid for a second term as governor. two.

“The most important economic decision a woman makes in her life is when and whether to have children, and this court decision risks taking that away from every woman in the country,” Whitmer said. , Whitmer said, after meeting with a small group of women here. a conversation about abortion rights. “It will depend on the governors and that’s why this fight is so important.”

This week, she urged the state Supreme Court to once again hear her abortion case, saying the ruling from Washington had led to confusion in Michigan. Democratic candidates for state court currently hold a 4-3 majority.

Opponents of the Republican Party

It’s too early to know if the outcome of any midterm election race will be influenced by the latest chapter of the abortion battle, but the seismic court ruling has given both strength a boost. within the debate and has reshaped a range of issues that drive many campaigns — not just for Congress, but even more sensitively in local and statewide contests.

Debates have raged in governor races in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, where Democrats see themselves as the last line of defense from Republican challengers for governorship and other political opponents. The GOP-controlled legislature is pressing for new abortion restrictions.

“It may not be the only issue people vote on, but I think we want to empower people in this tough economy,” Whitmer said. “The last thing you do is take away their health care, strip them of their rights and make them not full citizens.”

In this closely divided nation, Whitmer is also facing the same political headwinds that the Democratic candidates are experiencing across the country, with President Joe’s low approval rating. Biden amid many economic challenges. She acknowledged those concerns, but said that stripping away the right to have an abortion would lead to a greater economic burden on women and families.

“Inflation has done a lot of damage. Gasoline costs, grocery costs, it’s hard,” Whitmer said. “But I also know that you take away someone’s ability to make their healthcare decisions, which only adds to the pain that families will have to feel.”

Tudor Dixon, one of five Republicans in the August primaries that will determine who will run against Whitmer, strongly opposes abortion rights. She won the coveted endorsement from Right to Live Michigan, an influential anti-abortion grassroots group that is campaigning against a petition to have a November ballot question to Ask voters directly if they want to bring abortion rights to Michigan.

“On both sides, it energizes people,” Dixon said of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision. “Certainly, you have pro-life people who feel like this is a win, and then you have pro-life people who want to see something different.”

Guarantee of rights

Organizers are in the final days of collecting signatures for the initiative – which requires 425,059 valid signatures – in a move that ensures abortion remains a central issue through the fall election.

Armed with a clipboard and a pen, Sharon Basemen greeted the band’s concertgoers one night earlier this week in Huntington Woods, a suburb of Detroit’s Oakland County.

“Have you signed the reproductive rights initiative petition?” Basemen asked everyone who passed, one after another to stop to listen. A handful of men and women signed the petition in the Democratic-leaning community, with some explaining that they did.

“Friday, all hell broke loose, with people saying, ‘What can I do to help?'” Basement said in an interview. “I think women are fed up. We’re getting a lot of people who aren’t necessarily Democrats coming in because they think it’s wrong.”

Dixon and her Republican opponents running for governor both opposed the constitutional amendment question being added to the vote in November. She suggested that Whitmer and other Democrats were trying to change the course of the election. chat by making the 2022 campaign about abortion rights, instead of inflation and other economic issues being the top concern of all voters.

“Gretchen Whitmer has a pretty negative track record in this state, so she needs to see if she can come up with something to get people to the ballot box,” Dixon said, noting that rights opponents abortion would also have an incentive to vote against. constitutional amendments in November.

Christen Pollo, a spokeswoman for the anti-abortion rights coalition called Citizens Support Michigan Women and Children, thinks the ballot initiative is extreme and said her group plans to organize a vigorous campaign against this measure.

“We are preparing to launch a massive education campaign against this modification of anything related to abortion,” Pollo said in an interview. “For the next four months, until Election Day, we will fight to educate every Michigander about what’s really in the text of this abortion amendment.”

A week after the Supreme Court’s monumental ruling, she said, excitement among opponents of abortion rights remains equally high as a new chapter of the debate begins.

“Finally this issue has returned to the states, which is a welcome moment,” Pollo said. “But there’s also a recognition that we have a lot of hard work ahead of us.”

Loren Khogali, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, said she is confident the petition will receive the required number of signatures by the July 11 deadline. She dismissed criticism that the proposed constitutional amendment was extreme, saying voters could bypass the Republican-controlled legislature and decide for themselves whether to protect abortion and women’s rights. reproductive freedom or not.

The Michigan amendment will serve as a test run for other states navigating the post-Roe world, she said.

“If and when this passes, this will become the model for other types of similarly positioned states across the country,” Khogali said. “That would really be a harbinger of really tough times for reproductive rights advocates.”

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