Advance Notice: Briefs

Planned Parenthood challenges abortion ban ballot signatures

By: - June 2, 2020 1:56 pm

“Stop the Bans” pro-choice rally, May 21, 2019 | Ken Coleman

A significant amount of signatures to ban the dilation and evacuation abortion procedure (D&E) filed by Michigan Values Life, a coalition of anti-abortion groups, including Right to Life of Michigan, were found to be invalid.

That’s the argument from the Coalition to Protect Access to Care (CPAC), a ballot committee formed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, which filed a complaint with the Bureau of Elections stating that 65 of the 500 signatures used in its sample were defective.

“Today, I filed a complaint on behalf of the Coalition to Protect Access to Care outlining the defects with the petitions as filed by Michigan Values Life,” said attorney Mark Brewer. “Given the findings of our review, we believe the Board has ample reason to decline to certify these signatures.”

The initiative seeks to ban the D&E procedure commonly used in the second trimester and make it a felony for doctors to perform it unless the mother’s life was endangered.

Michigan Values Life claimed to have filed 379,419 signatures in December, but the Bureau of Elections (BOE) found there only 373,062 signatures were filed.

The anti-abortion group needed to collect 340,047 signatures to get on the November ballot. If the BOE does find that the number of signatures is valid, the petition will first go to the GOP-led Legislature, which is expected to adopt it. If the Legislature didn’t approve the measure, then it would go before voters in November.

A review of the 500-signature sample pulled by the BOE found 65 defective signatures, including at least 21 signatures of voters who signed a second or third time elsewhere in the petition. Based on the sample, the duplication rate is 4.2%.

CPAC states that this is the first time a citizen’s initiative brought by Right to Life has been formally challenged.

“We’ve said all along that we would challenge this initiative at every opportunity because we know how dangerous it is for politics to dictate medical care,” said Angela Vasquez-Giroux, spokesperson for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan. 

“The vast majority of Michiganders agree that abortion should remain safe and legal, and that decisions about how and when to end a pregnancy should be made by doctors and patients, not politicians. Interest groups want to unilaterally decide how doctors treat patients without letting voters weigh in. We owe it to every Michigander to ensure that this petition meets every standard required for certification before Right to Life is able to force their beliefs on millions of people, backed by the votes of less than two hundred.”

A Michigan Values Life spokesperson did not respond to a request to comment.

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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.