Amidst a series of blows to reproductive rights in the U.S. following the Dobbs v. Jackson decision, the midterm elections yielded a much-needed victory for sexual and reproductive health in Michigan. Proposal Three, a statewide proposal codifying the right to abortion in the Michigan Constitution, passed on November 8th by a 13-point margin. This victory was a critical one in Michigan, which is historically known as a swing state, and where the fate of abortion rights in light of the Supreme Court decision remained unclear. Temporary legal action prevented the state’s 1931 abortion ban from going into effect following the Dobbs decision.
The breakdown of Michigan votes in favor of Proposal Three offers compelling insights into the profile of Michigan voters. A Michigan Advance article found that Michigan voters living in abortion deserts played a critical role in passing the proposal, with several northern counties demonstrating overwhelming support. It is not uncommon for Michigan residents living in the Upper Peninsula to travel over 100 miles to access sexual and reproductive health care. The large margin by which the proposal passed also implicates bipartisan support for abortion access.
Despite passing by a margin exceeding 583,000 votes, a recount process for the proposal was initiated on December 5th. According to the Detroit Free Press, the push for a recount was backed by the Election Integrity Force, the same group that filed a lawsuit to delegitimize the results of the 2020 election. The recount will take place across Michigan counties, and the associated costs will largely be covered using Michigan tax funds.
The influence of groups such as the Election Integrity Force in impeding the codification of rights to reproductive health care highlights the significant presence of anti-abortion political forces in Michigan. The midterm elections and their implications for abortion access in Michigan, however, offers hope for abortion access in the U.S. despite of the Dobbs decision, and also suggests the importance of historically silent voters in the fight for abortion access, such as rural women in abortion deserts and conservative voters.