By Sherri Kolade
It is now left up to Michigan voters to decide the next move on an abortion rights measure recently placed on the November ballot.
The Associated Press (AP) reported that voters will decide if abortion rights should belong in the Michigan Constitution, a move determined by the state Supreme Court on Thursday, September 8.
According to the article, abortion rights would be for certain if the amendment passes on Tuesday, November 8, during the general election. Presently, the 1931 state law makes performing abortions a crime, although the law was suspended in May, concluding with a judge earlier in September striking it down as unconstitutional, according to the report.
Even though appealing that move could be plausible, the law would still outweigh the decision if voters approve the amendment in November.
The November ballot is anticipated to include a referendum for registered voters to take their fight to the polls and directly consider the decision of everyday residents. While the Democratic Party currently controls the office of governor, the Republican Party controls both chambers of the state legislature with a 56 to 53 majority.
The national, seemingly uphill battle for women’s reproductive health continues as citizens and public officials have vocalized and protested their opposition to the initial decision by the Supreme Court to remove federal protections for women’s reproductive rights. On June 24, history was made by the landmark Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in a 6-3 ruling delivered by the Supreme Court, controversially overturning the seminal 1973 Roe v. Wade decision granting abortion as a federally protected right.
The court’s controversial decision impacted the ability of individual states to set their abortion laws. Before being overturned, for nearly 50 years abortions were granted during the first two trimesters of pregnancy.
The court’s only three liberal justices filed a dissenting opinion to the decision.
Detroit Doula Khalifah Green told the Michigan Chronicle previously that she wonders how the Supreme Court ruling changes the landscape, especially for unplanned pregnancies.
“In birth work, you see all types of lives and different walks of life. I have seen the impact of unwanted pregnancies slow down or stop labor physiologically. … We are having to close in the ranks and make sure we have a strong referral list of mental health experts. … You’re going to see a spike in depression, especially postpartum depression from people in our community birthing babies they didn’t plan for and don’t have other options for – I don’t know what that will do,” Green said.
Democrats note that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is spurring voters to mobilize, which will help Democratic candidates this fall election.
Even locally, women’s rights coalitions and healthcare organizations across the country have been steadily rallying against SCOTUS’s decision to eliminate the constitutional right to obtain an abortion. In a hegemonic shift back toward conservative precedent, the “Dobbs decision” granted deferential power to individual states.
Attorney General Dana Nessel said the overturning of Roe will have additional negative consequences. “I’ve been putting domestic violence advocates on high alert: expect to see an increase in partner assault cases, including homicides, because of Roe being overturned. If women can’t exercise their right to terminate a pregnancy, that will leave them anchored to their abusers for the rest of their lives. Being forced to carry a fetus would cause catastrophic harm to women already in a precarious situation.”
Nessel urged voters who want to maintain their reproductive rights to make their voices heard at the ballot box in November.
Many Black advocacy groups assert that the SCOTUS decision is closely linked with race. Gynecological experiments and forced sterilizations have historically impacted Black women in the U.S., per ABC News.
Black women are also more likely to die from childbirth than white women. A federal study reports that college-educated Black women are five times more likely to die from pregnancy than white women who went to college.
“We all need to be able to determine how many children we’re going to have if we’re going to have children. We all have a human right to make decisions about our bodies,” said Toni Bond, the scholar who coined the phrase “reproductive justice” in the 90s to separate the concerns of Black women from those of white feminists. The access and expense of health care and police brutality are other factors that especially concern Black women.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black women are more than four times as likely to have had abortions as white women. On a national average, Black women are also more likely to miscarry or have stillbirths than white women.
“Abortion is a necessary part of health care that every Michigander should be able to access,” said Dr. Michael Hertz, a northern Michigan OB/GYN. “We must do all we can here in Michigan to protect this access for the health and well-being of our patients. These actions are important to ensuring that abortion remains safe, legal and available in Michigan.”
Staff Writer Rasha Almulaiki contributed to this report.