Michigan Republicans Are Trying to Roll Back Reproductive Rights. It’s Not Going to Work.

AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File

By Kyle Kaminski

May 26, 2023

Republican lawmakers introduced bills to repeal reproductive freedoms in Michigan. But apparently nobody told them the state constitution—and millions of Michiganders—won’t let that happen.

LANSING—A package of legislation submitted this week by several Republican state lawmakers seeks to repeal Michiganders’ constitutional right to reproductive freedom, and once again reinstate an archaic abortion ban with no exceptions for rape or incest.

Fortunately for the nearly 2.5 million Michiganders who voted in November to cement their right to reproductive freedom into the state Constitution via Proposal 3:

The GOP’s plan is not going to work.

Here’s the deal:

State Rep. Neil Friske (R-Charlevoix)—who calls himself a “constitutional conservative” on his campaign website—on Thursday submitted several bills that would essentially make all abortion care illegal across Michigan. Among his plans: Reinstate Michigan’s 1931 ban on abortion care; ban the sale and advertisement of medication abortion; and reinstitute felony criminal penalties that could ultimately send doctors who provide reproductive health care to prison for 15 years.

Seven other Republican representatives co-sponsored the legislation: Steve Carra (R-Three Rivers), Angela Rigas (R-Caledonia), Jim DeSana (R-Carelton), Joseph Fox (R-Tecumseh), Greg Alexander (R-Carsonville), Cam Cavitt (R-Cheboygan), and Matt Maddock (R-Milford).

The legislation also includes a resolution to condemn deliberate abortions as “murderous,” as well as a long-shot joint resolution referred to as HJR C, which seeks to repeal the freshly minted constitutional right to reproductive freedom that Michiganders voted into place in November. 

It’s not going to happen.

While lawmakers can choose to amend state laws by a simple majority vote in Michigan, eight lawmakers do not wield the power to unilaterally roll back constitutional protections in Michigan.

The state Constitution essentially spells out two ways in which constitutional amendments can be made—and they both eventually require approval from a majority of voters at the polls. 

Constitutional amendments that are proposed in the Senate or House—like the joint resolution submitted this week—would require two-thirds of Michigan’s lawmakers to support the changes before voters are then given an opportunity to vote on the issue at the next general election.

And with Democratic majorities in both chambers who are fiercely supportive of the right to reproductive freedom, and a historic 2.5 million Michiganders voting in support of Proposal 3 in November, even Friske recognizes that his extremist legislation is an impossible hail mary.

“While unlikely to pass, this package should serve as a guideline for Republicans and all Michiganders who cherish life,” Friske wrote in a Facebook post announcing the legislation. 

“Reinstituting pro-life laws should be the first and foremost goal of our party.”

The legislation was referred to the Committee on Government Operations, where it’s exceptionally unlikely to see any further movement under Democratic control. House Speaker Pro-Tem Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia)—who is also the vice-chair of the Committee on Government Operations—made that clear after the bills were filed.

“This is a prime example of why we need to hold on to our House Dem majority next year, though,” Pohutsky said. “The Michigan GOP learned nothing from their defeat on this very issue last November and won’t hesitate to do whatever they can to chip away at reproductive rights.”

Author

  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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