New Poll: Michiganders Want More Birth Control Access, Not Less

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By Keya Vakil

March 11, 2022

All three Republican candidates for Michigan Attorney General recently said they believed that a Supreme Court ruling allowing married couples to buy and use contraception without risk of prosecution was wrongly decided.

Need to Know

  • 77% of Michigan voters oppose limiting access to birth control and only 9% of Michigan voters believe states should be able to ban or limit access to contraceptives such as condoms and birth control pills, which help people avoid unwanted pregnancies.
  • All three GOP candidates for AG—Former House Speaker Tom Leonard, state Rep. Ryan Berman, and attorney Matthew DePerno—all said they believed a Supreme Court ruling allowing married couples to buy and use contraception without risk of prosecution was wrongly decided. 
  • 43% of voters said they’d be less likely to support the GOP candidates after hearing about their opposition to the Supreme Court ruling protecting access to contraceptives.

MICHIGAN—Seventy-seven percent of Michigan voters oppose banning or limiting access to contraceptives, an idea that has been embraced by all three Republican candidates for state Attorney General.

The finding comes via a new poll from Progress Michigan and Public Policy Polling, which also found that only 9% of MIchigan voters believe states should be able to ban or limit access to contraceptives such as condoms and birth control pills, which help people avoid unwanted pregnancies. Another 14% of registered voters said they weren’t sure. 

The results of the poll show that “Michigan voters refuse to fall for Republican misinformation,” and “remain firmly on the side” of reproductive freedom, according to Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. 

The question was prompted by a jarring moment at the end of last month’s debate among the three Republican candidates vying to be the party’s nominee for the Attorney General (AG) position. The candidates were asked if they supported the Supreme Court’s 1965 ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut, which struck down Connecticut’s ban on the sale of contraception and banned the prosecution of married couples for using contraception based on the right to marital privacy. 

In response, former House Speaker Tom Leonard (R-DeWitt), state Rep. Ryan Berman (R-Commerce Twp) and Kalamazoo-based attorney Matthew DePerno all said they believed the case was wrongly decided and overstepped on states’ rights.

“This case, much like Roe v. Wade, I believe, was wrongly decided,” Leonard said. “It was an issue that trampled states’ rights and it was an issue that should have been left up to the states.” 

Berman echoed Leonard’s stance and said the Court had engaged in “judicial activism” by supporting the right to contraception. DePerno, who has spread lies about the outcome of the 2020 election and has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump, then delivered a screed about the importance of “states rights” and told Michigan citizens to “hold the line” against the federal government.

Incumbent AG Dana Nessel, a Democrat, quickly jumped on candidates’ embrace of a fringe position, calling it “terrifying.”

“All 3 Republicans running for Michigan Attorney General just stated that they oppose the ruling in Griswold v Connecticut which outlawed prosecuting married couples for using contraception,” she wrote in a tweet. 

Leonard and Berman later walked back their remarks to an extent, according to The Detroit News. Leonard said states should not ban contraceptives, while Berman claimed not to oppose contraception. Still, both continue to say the Court got the decision wrong. 

Whether access to contraception becomes a key issue or not in the AG race remains to be seen. If it does, it could be a major vulnerability for the Republicans.

Forty-three percent of Michigan voters said they’d be less likely to support the Republican candidates after hearing about their opposition to the Supreme Court ruling protecting access to contraceptives, according to the Progress Michigan/Public Policy Polling survey. Conversely, only 16% said they’d be more likely to vote for the candidates, while 33% said it doesn’t make a difference and 8% weren’t sure. 

This fall’s general election will take place on Nov. 8. You can register to vote here or learn more about the elections here.

Author

  • Keya Vakil

    Keya Vakil is the deputy political editor at COURIER. He previously worked as a researcher in the film industry and dabbled in the political world.

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