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Reproductive rights ballot initiative sees increase in signatures, volunteers

Rick Pluta
Michigan Public Radio

A ballot initiative campaign to add abortion rights to Michigan’s Constitution has received an increase of signatures and volunteers since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

The Reproductive Freedom For All ballot initiative seeks to make reproductive freedom a state constitutional right. Reproductive freedom is defined as "the right to make and effectuate decisions about all matters relating to pregnancy, including but not limited to prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, contraception, sterilization, abortion care, miscarriage management, and infertility care."

"We have seen a huge surge in interest in people wanting to sign and wanting to collect signatures since the Supreme Court (ruling) Friday,” said Sommer Foster, Executive Director of Michigan Voices.

Foster said the initiative has well beyond the required 425,059 signatures but that signatures are still being collected.

"We want to make sure that we still get every possible signature that we can get to make sure we have a big enough cushion, because we know that there will be challenges along the way," Foster said.

She said thousands of people signed up to help with the campaign when the draft opinion was first leaked in May. Thousands more people volunteered to canvass over the weekend, Foster said.

The campaign needs to turn in enough signatures by July 11 to make it on the November ballot.

Canvassers are being asked to turn in signatures by July 1 to make time for the quality control process, according to Foster. This comes after widespread signature fraud allegations have disrupted multiple candidacies and ballot initiatives.

“Since the beginning, we have trained each and every petition collector on the processes. Once we get those petitions back, whether they're from volunteers or for organizations that are helping us collect signatures, we do our own quality control process. And we are going to make sure that we turn in signatures that we know are valid before we get to the Board of Canvassers.”

Supporters of the initiative include Michigan Voices, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan and the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan. The Michigan Catholic Conference and Right to Life of Michigan are opposed.

Sophia Kalakailo joined Michigan Radio in Sept. 2021 and is a senior at Michigan State University studying journalism and minoring in documentary production. She previously interned at Bridge Michigan and was an editor for The State News and The Eastern Echo covering a wide range of topics.
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