As anti-abortion opponents ramp up ads against Proposal 3, supporters debunk claims

By: - October 21, 2022 3:16 pm

Protestors march in support of abortion rights following a Women’s Wave rally in Lansing on Oct. 8, 2022. (Andrew Roth | Michigan Advance)

With just over two weeks until voters decide whether or not abortion will be protected in the state Constitution with Proposal 3, supporters say there’s been a stream of misinformation about what the measure would do. 

Washtenaw County Prosecutor Eli Savit said during a “Yes on Prop 3” press conference Friday afternoon that attempts from the religious right to paint Prop 3 as “the anything goes” proposal is frivolous. 

Groups have been putting a lot of money into anti-Prop 3 ads, according to data from AdImpact, which estimates that opponents will surpass $21 million spent on TV ads by Nov. 8. It’s estimated that groups in support of Proposal 3 will spend $9.4 million on TV ads by Election Day.

Opponents claim that Proposal 3 would repeal current parental consent laws around abortion or allow minors to go through gender-reaffirming surgeries without their parents’ consent. 

“This issue that Prop 3 somehow has anything to do with gender identity or with gender-affirming surgery is just flatly false,” Savit said. 

Michigan currently has a 1931 law criminalizing abortion that could have gone into effect after the U.S. Supreme Court in June overturned Roe v. Wade. But it is on hold amid lawsuits from both Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Planned Parenthood of Michigan. 

Voters will decide on Nov. 8 whether to enshrine reproductive rights in the Michigan Constitution with Proposal 3. In July, the Reproductive Freedom for All (RFFA) coalition, which aims to amend the state Constitution to ensure Michiganders’ right to make and carry out decisions relating to pregnancy, including abortion, birth control, prenatal care and childbirth, submitted a record-breaking 730,000 signatures to get on the ballot.

Here’s the Proposal 3 language voters will see on their ballot Nov. 8: 

“A proposal to amend the state constitution to establish new individual right to reproductive freedom, including right to make all decisions about pregnancy; allow state to prohibit abortion in some cases; and forbid prosecution of individuals exercising established right

This proposed constitutional amendment would:

  • Establish new individual right to reproductive freedom, including right to make and carry out all decisions about pregnancy, such as prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, contraception, sterilization, abortion, miscarriage management, and infertility;
  • Allow state to prohibit abortion after fetal viability unless needed to protect a patient’s life or physical or mental health;
  • Forbid state discrimination in enforcement of this right; prohibit prosecution of an individual, or a person helping a pregnant individual, for exercising rights established by this amendment; and invalidate all state laws that conflict with this amendment.”

The Citizens to Support Michigan Women and Children coalition, which includes Right to Life of Michigan and the Michigan Catholic Conference, began its education campaign in May against the Reproductive Freedom For All ballot initiative. 

The group has done a number of ads and mailers claiming that Proposal 3 is “extreme and confusing.”

One of the claims made about Prop 3 by opponents is that the language would allow for minors to get abortions without parental consent. 

“There is absolutely nothing in the text of the Reproductive Freedom for All ballot initiative that mentions or supersedes parental consent. You can read it all day and that is not mentioned,” Savit said. “What opponents are homing in on is the fact that the right extends to all individuals.”

Savit listed a number of amendments in the U.S. Constitution, including the First, Second and 14th Amendments, that don’t specify between adults and minors, but have been interpreted as such. 

“The law regularly treats kids and adults differently,” Savit said. 

Anti-Proposal 3 sign | Susan J. Demas

The other concern the Prop 3 campaign addressed was misinformed claims that the proposal, if passed, would affect how gender-reaffirming care is handled in this state because the proposal mentions sterilization.

“We are now seeing women come in requesting tubal ligations because they’re afraid that [the 1931 abortion ban] is going to go into place and that they’re not going to be able to access reproductive care,” said Dr. Melissa Bayne, who practices osteopathic medicine, during the press conference. “That is adult women that had a robust consent process as it relates to making a decision about sterilization. That has to do with tubal ligations and IUDs, not to do with children and hormone care as it relates to to transgender care or transgender wellness. It has nothing to do with that.”

Another claim is that the proposal creates a “mental health loophole” to allow for late-term abortions, which are rare. In Michigan, there were only 381 abortions after 21 weeks of pregnancy out of 30,074 total abortions in 2021, or .1%. Only two abortions last year were performed after 28 weeks. 

“Nothing in the amendment changes doctors’ professional standards of care, and the idea that a doctor or a medical professional who is bound by their own codes of medical ethics, is going to recommend to perform a late term abortion because somebody got anxious is just frivolous,” Savit said. 

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Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue covers education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.

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