Ella Bright, Maria Kolb
January 19, 2022
A coalition of advocacy groups consisting of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and the nonprofit Michigan Voices have launched a bid to change the state’s constitution, ensuring that people in Michigan have the right to an abortion.
Michigan law states that it is illegal for someone to perform or assist someone in an abortion unless it’s necessary to save the life of a pregnant person. After the 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, giving people the right to safe, legal abortion all over the country, the law was essentially deemed null. However, it was never repealed.
The coalition of Michigan advocacy groups is pushing for a constitutional amendment ensuring the people’s right to abortion just as the Supreme Court is preparing to rule on cases that may put those like Roe v. Wade in danger.
Later this summer, the Supreme Court is expected to deliver its ruling on a Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks. As the Supreme Court holds a conservative majority (6-3), particularly following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Roe v. Wade is expected to be severely changed or possibly even overturned.
If the Supreme Court makes any changes to Roe v. Wade, the Michigan law criminalizing abortion that has been out of effect since 1973 could take effect again.
“We are exploring a ballot measure that would preserve every individual’s constitutional right to make the very personal decision about reproductive health care, including abortion, and keep those decisions between the individual and their medical professional,” said Nicole Wells Stallworth, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, in an interview with the Detroit Free Press. “We all have the right to determine our own futures.”
The ballot measure in question would still allow Michigan to regulate abortions “after fetal viability”, (meaning at a point where a health care professional deems the fetus could survive outside a uterus without any extreme medical means) and would ban the state from preventing any abortion that a medical professional rules necessary.
More people in Michigan would be affected by any potential changes to abortion access than any other state, experts say; almost 2.2 million people would lose access to abortions, according to a report created by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
“I think It’s going to create a situation where wealthy women are able to travel out of state to procure abortion services, [while] poor women, especially for women in rural areas and women of color, … will attempt to self-abort and many of them will attempt to procure services from people that are not qualified to perform these services.” said Dana Nessel, Attorney General on Monday, Dec. 20 in a roundtable with reporters. “And many women will die. And that scares me a lot.”
“I am very much an advocate for making awareness,” said Morgan Sweitzer (‘22). Sweitzer grew up out of state but has lived in Michigan the four years she’s attended Alma College. “As a woman, I believe it’s my right do to what I want with my body within safe measures, and I guess that’s where the problem comes in. People define different things as ‘safe.’”
If Roe v. Wade is overturned when the Supreme Court revisits the case this summer, twenty-six US states are expected to ban abortion, including Michigan.
“It’s infuriating to me that we’re still dealing with this in the year 2022,” said Sweitzer. “I thought we would be past the point of people … telling me what to do with my body. It’s so frustrating that we’re still fighting about it. I believe everyone should have that right.”