The campaign to enshrine abortion rights in the Michigan state constitution was already underway before the constitutional right was overturned by the Supreme Court. But now it has become an embittered battle to keep a 90-year-old abortion ban off the books.
Campaigners fear a ban would criminalize doctors and pregnant people and deny essential medical care, such as miscarriage medication, now that the constitutional right to abortion no longer exists in the U.S.
Proposal 3 would enshrine reproductive rights in the state constitution.
Many see Michigan as being pivotal to how the fight for reproductive rights goes across the nation. It is being seen as the blueprint for America.
The elections are at the center of the national abortion debate. Since the constitutional right to an abortion was struck down by the Supreme Court on June 24, almost half of the states have tried or have successfully banned abortion.
The battle in Michigan has seen death threats and vandalism from pro-choice militants. On the anti-choice side, it has involved dirty tactics from the Republican party, who tried to block a petition brought by nearly 800,000 Michiganders over formatting errors, and who have peddled a wide campaign of misinformation.
Republican Party strategists and experts say that statewide abortion bans are turning people off to the party.
A senior adviser for the Lincoln Project, a coalition of republicans and former republicans who campaign to keep former president Donald trump out of office, said republicans need to be aware of how state bans are turning voters to vote democratic.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more votes for [Proposal] 3 than for the governor’s race,” says Jeff Timmer, a senior adviser for the Lincoln Project.
“The Republicans have used abortion for decades as a means to motivate their pro-life religious base. And for almost everybody who was engaged in that rhetoric, it was always theoretical. They never really had to worry about real-life consequences – and now they do,” says Timmer.
Democrats in Michigan joke that the signage of the no campaign – “Vote no. Too confusing. Too extreme” – makes Republicans look silly: absent a real critique of the ballot initiative, instead they focus on making voters feel they can’t understand for themselves.
But a lot of emotive misinformation is circulating, including materials from the Catholic church that suggest a number of policies could arise from voting yes including child sterilization and abortion without parental consent – none of which has been proposed.
Darci McConnell, the communications director for the yes campaign, cites recent polling showing 64 percent of Michiganders support Proposal 3.
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