On December 23, 2019, the campaign Michigan Values Life filed 379,418 signatures for a ballot initiative to ban an abortion procedure. The ballot initiative defines the procedure as dismemberment abortion, which is also known as dilation and evacuation abortion.
The ballot initiative would define dismemberment abortion as an abortion which uses an instrument, device, or object to “dismember a living fetus by disarticulating limbs or decapitating the head from the fetal torso or removing the dismembered fetal body parts from the uterus regardless of whether the fetal body parts are removed by the same instrument, device, or object or by suction or other means.”
At least 340,047 (89.6 percent) of the submitted signatures need to be valid. As an indirect initiative, the proposal would first go to the Michigan State Legislature if enough signatures are verified. The legislature would have 40 days to pass the initiative. The governor’s signature is not needed on an indirect initiative passed by the legislature. Currently, Republicans control both legislative houses, while a Democrat, Gretchen Whitmer, is the governor. House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-107) said that he expected the legislature to pass the ballot initiative.
If enough signatures are verified and the indirect initiative is not passed by the legislature, the initiative would appear on the ballot for November 3, 2020. Speaking about the scenario of the initiative going to the ballot, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) said, “I will actively campaign against adoption.”
According to Bridge Magazine, dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortions are the most common type of second-trimester abortion. Mississippi and West Virginia have active bans on D&E abortions. Courts have struck down bans in several other states.
As of December 2019, one abortion-related ballot measure has qualified for the 2020 ballot. In Louisiana, voters will decide a constitutional amendment stating that “nothing in this constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.” Signatures are also being collected for a 22-week abortion ban ballot initiative in Colorado. In Michigan, a campaign for a second ballot initiative that would restrict abortions when a fetal heartbeat is present is also collecting signatures. The latest that signatures can be filed for an indirect initiative in Michigan is May 27, 2020.
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