Michigan voters, after an expensive and tense campaign, approved a sweeping amendment to the state’s constitution guaranteeing the right to abortion and other reproductive health services. The decisive vote, following the defeat by double digits of an anti-abortion proposal in Kansas in August, bolsters arguments from abortion-rights supporters that the issue can draw strong support even in purple states. In Republican-leaning Kentucky, an antiabortion amendment was defeated, clearing a potential path for abortion access to be restored in a state with one of the most restrictive bans. The Michigan measure passed with 55.7 percent of the vote, Politico reports. Of the five abortion-rights measures on state ballots, Michigan’s arguably carries the highest stakes. If it had failed, there remained the possibility that a 1931 law banning abortion with no exemptions for rape or incest could have gone back into effect. Voters in California and Vermont passed similar amendments to their state constitutions to include reproductive rights.
The old Michigan law was blocked in court after Planned Parenthood and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer challenged it this year. The court fight will continue to decide if the law will be permanently struck down. The amendment vote all but ensures Michigan will remain a haven for abortion access in the midwest post-Roe. Health care providers in the state are expecting an influx of patients from Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and other states have or are likely to enforce near total bans on the procedure. Many providers were prominent voices in ads on the campaign trail and testifying in court in the leadup to the vote, arguing that allowing the near-century-old law would endanger patients with high-risk pregnancies. Many Democratic officials and some business owners in the state also made an economic case for passing the amendment, predicting that abortion-rights protections would make it easier to recruit and retain workers in the struggling Rust Belt state and make it possible to poach businesses from other states with more abortion restrictions.