Michigan abortion rights amendment to go to state Supreme Court

By James Oliphant

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The group backing a Michigan ballot issue that would legalize abortion in the state said it would appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court after a state board on Wednesday deadlocked over approving the measure for the November ballot.

Two Republicans on the state Canvassing Board voted against placing the proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot, while two Democrats supported it.

Reproductive Freedom For All, an abortion-rights advocacy group that amassed more than 730,000 signatures in support of the measure, said it would quickly take the matter up with the Democratic-leaning high court.

The group mounted a petition drive in advance of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in June that overturned Roe v. Wade, the seminal case that granted nationwide constitutional protection for abortions.

The court’s decision resulted in a 1931 Michigan abortion ban going back into effect. But a state judge earlier this month blocked county prosecutors from enforcing the ban.

Anti-abortion groups objected to the ballot measure largely on technical grounds, saying the language of the petition contained multiple errors. The ballot for the Nov. 8 election must be finalized by Sept. 9.

Earlier this month, voters in Kansas soundly rejected a proposed amendment to its constitution that would have allowed the state legislature to ban the procedure, the first test of voter sentiment since the Supreme Court’s abortion decision was handed down.

Several other states, including Kentucky and California, will have statewide referendums on abortion rights on their November ballots, and the issue is figuring prominently in Michigan’s competitive governor’s race.

(Reporting by James Oliphant; Editing by Bill Berkrot)