Abortion rights will appear on November ballot, Michigan Supreme Court rules

Voters will decide on abortion rights in Michigan this November, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday

In a 5-2 vote, the Michigan Supreme Court ordered the proposal be placed on the November ballot. That ruling comes after the Board of State Canvassers deadlocked 2-2 when deciding whether a petition to put abortion legalization on the ballot should be approved.

The board will still 

In the order, the court ruled that the board's duty was to approve the ballot after supporters collected enough signatures.

"It is undisputed that there are sufficient signatures to warrant certification. The only challenge to the petition is in regard to whether there is sufficient space between certain words of the text of the proposed amendment," the order read. "The "full text" of the amendment is present: regardless of the existence or extent of the spacing, all of the words remain and they remain in the same order, and it is not disputed that they are printed in 8-point type."

In the dissenting opinion, Justice Brian Zahra said the board had ‘ample reason' to deny certification.

"The problem with these petitions is clearly evident upon casual review and must have been evident to the proponents of this petition drive. Rather than correct the deficiency with the petition by securing a petition that conformed precisely to the petition that received approval from the Bureau of Elections, Reproductive Freedom for All ignored the defect in the petition and forged on with the collection of signatures. The only thing more difficult to discern than the disputed portions of the text of the amendment is why the proponents of the amendment proceeded to circulate a petition that plainly did not conform to the form and content of the petition preapproved by the Bureau of Elections," Zahra wrote.

He also called on the state lawmaker to amend election laws to require certification by the Board of Canvassers at least six weeks before the ballot must be finalized.

More: Election board rejects vote on petition that would legalize abortion

Why the ballot initiative was rejected

Republicans on the board rejected the petition over errors in the language that was used - primarily over dozens of spaces that were left out in the language. Democrats on the board argued its members had no authority to base their decision on the content of the petition.

Read: Abortion petition rejection sparks debate over canvassing board's duties

Nearly three-quarters of a million signatures were turned in with the petition, which was started after Roe v. Wade was overturned by the United States Supreme Court earlier this year. 

All ballot proposal language must be finalized by Friday.

Is abortion legal in Michigan?

The proposed amendment would overrule the prevailing 1931 law in Michigan that outlaws abortion without exception for rape or incest. Under that ban, providing non-life-saving abortions is prosecuted as manslaughter.  

However, as of now, abortion is legal in the state after Oakland County Judge Jacob James Cunningham upheld an injunction on the state's ban on the procedure last month.

The injunction first went into place in May when Judge Elizabeth Gleicher suspended the law over Planned Parenthood's "substantial likelihood" of winning the case.

The Michigan Court of Appeals overturned that injunction, which would have allowed county prosecutors to enforce the ban, had Cunningham not upheld the injunction.

Read: Judge upholds injunction on 1931 ban

Cunningham said his injunction is indefinite.

On Wednesday, the state Court of Claims ruled that the 1931 ban is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced. 

What happens next

Voters will decide if abortion will be legal in Michigan when they head to the polls Nov. 8.