Anti-abortion protesters gather at Michigan Capitol as lawsuit is filed to overturn Proposal 3

By: - November 8, 2023 7:42 pm

Participant holds up a sign at the Michigan March for Life outside the Michigan State Capitol on Nov. 8, 2023. (Photo: Anna Liz Nichols)

One year after Michigan voters passed landmark abortion rights laws via Proposal 3, over 1,000 people rallied to eliminate it during a “march for life” at the Capitol building. 

Earlier the same morning, Right to Life of Michigan, the event’s organizer, filed a lawsuit alongside other Michigan organizations in federal court asking for legal intervention to ax the amendment to the state’s constitution that passed with 57% of the vote in 2022. 

Proposal 3, also called the Reproductive Freedom for All amendment by organizers, struck the 1931 ban on abortions from Michigan law and created additional protections for people seeking reproductive health care. Its passage made Michigan one of the first states to take decisive action to protect legal abortion after the U.S. Supreme Court in June overturned Roe v. Wade.

Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life Education and Defense Fund, said in a statement that Michigan’s new abortion laws mark a concerning change in policy from the state’s former position.

“In a state that once proudly championed the sanctity of life, and protected women and the unborn, Michigan’s course has taken a disheartening turn,” Mancini said. “In the wake of Roe’s overturn, pro-abortion politicians and lobbyists have worked hard to turn Michigan into one of the most pro-abortion states in the country.” 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signs an executive directive in preparation of enacting Proposal 3, which enshrines abortion rights in Michigan’s state constitution, on Dec. 14, 2022. (Andrew Roth/Michigan Advance)

The lawsuit was swiftly condemned by several Michigan lawmakers and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, whose president, Paula Thornton Greear, said that results from Tuesday’s election in Ohio reaffirm Americans’ support for reproductive freedom.

“As we saw last year in Michigan and again last night in Ohio: abortion is a winning issue,” Greear said. “The Republican Party knows it, too, but rather than admit that they are dramatically out of step with American values and American voters, they resort to dirty tactics like these instead. This baseless lawsuit is nothing but a brazen political attempt to overturn the will of the people and impose dangerous anti-abortion policies on an electorate that doesn’t want them.”

Rallygoers from around the state gathered on the Capitol lawn and were addressed by lawmakers, anti-abortion activists and religious officials about the future of Michigan’s anti-abortion movement in a post-Proposal 3 world. 

State Rep. Jaime Greene (R-Lapeer) said that her experiences as a rape survivor and mother to a child with a genetic disorder inform her views on abortion, and condemned legislative “madness” currently dominating the state.

“It has deepened my understanding of the importance of proper reverence for the human remains and fostered in mere respect for every individual,” Greene said. “Whether they take their first breath, or have their life cut tragically short before birth, there is absolutely no excuse for abortion in the world of Jaime Greene.” 

In addition to Proposal 3, bills passed by the Legislature last week are set to be signed by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The Reproductive Health Act will eliminate several of what Democrats called Michigan’s existing barriers to abortion care, including a ban on what’s known as “partial birth” abortion, or the dilation and extraction procedure sometimes used later in pregnancies, and certain regulations on outpatient abortion clinics. 

Various abortion rights groups praised the passage of this legislation. A coalition including the ACLU of Michigan, Reproductive Freedom For All Michigan and the Women’s Organization on Rights to Health at the University of Michigan said in a statement that while it was pleased with the passage of further abortion protections, the actions of some lawmakers led to the package’s reforms becoming “watered down.”

“Without eliminating the Medicaid abortion ban and the 24-hour mandated delay, access to abortion care will remain out of reach for too many across our state,” the statement said. 

Rep. Karen Whitsett (D-Detroit), the lone Democratic holdout on the package, was able to block the passage of measures banning Michigan’s mandatory 24-hour waiting period and allowing abortion patients to cover care under Medicaid. 

Whitsett told her colleagues that if the bills contained any allowance for the use of Medicaid on abortions, she would vote against the package in its entirety. 


For anti-abortion advocates, Whitsett’s hesitations led to a small victory. 

Sen. Thomas Albert (R-Lowell) said in a speech to marchers that Lansing’s Democratic majority has led to “extremism” on abortion issues. 

“This year, Democrats have passed legislation that goes well beyond what we had in place during the Roe era,” Albert said. “They pushed to eliminate safety standards for outpatient surgical centers, repealing a law prohibiting the practice of partial birth abortion and the list goes on. These changes are about helping the abortion industry, not the women who may be harmed by the elimination of these safety standards.”

Albert criticized Whitmer for “promoting abortion to residents in other states” since the passage of Proposal 3 last year. Whitmer has made reproductive freedom a centerpiece of campaigns to draw new talent to Michigan’s workforce, advertising a state where young adults have the freedom to make their own choices about their bodies. 

To Albert, and to over a thousand attendees on the Capitol lawn, Michigan’s abortion laws are cause for dismay, rather than a point of pride.

“We are now at a time when being an advocate of life can be labeled as extreme,” Albert said.


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Lily Guiney
Lily Guiney

Lily is a contributor to the Michigan Advance and a former reporting intern. Her coverage areas included state government and politics, including abortion rights and gun violence prevention issues.