- ASSOCIATED PRESS
Abortion bans, protections awaiting verdicts from voters
12:25 JST, November 9, 2022
WASHINGTON (AP) — Abortion was on the ballot in several states Tuesday, months after the Supreme Court overturned the right to abortion in a decision that led to near-total bans in a dozen states.
The most intense focus was on Michigan, where there was a push in the presidential battleground to protect abortion rights in the state constitution, and Kentucky, a GOP stronghold where a legal battle over a restrictive law is already underway.
Voters in solidly Democratic California and Vermont also were deciding measures that would enshrine such rights in their state constitutions.
The question for Montana voters was whether to create criminal penalties for health care providers unless they do everything “medically appropriate and reasonable” to save the life of a baby after birth, including the rare possibility of birth after an attempted abortion.
In Michigan, supporters of the measure collected more signatures than any other ballot initiative in state history.
The measure, if passed, would put a definitive end to a 1931 ban on abortion. A state judge has blocked the ban, but another court could revive it after the Roe v. Wade was overturned in June. The initiative would negate that ban and affirm the right to make pregnancy-related decisions about abortion and other reproductive services such as birth control without interference.
James Miller, 66, of Flint, Michigan, said he thought of his daughters, granddaughters and great-granddaughters when he voted in favor of the measure.
“I think we should do the right thing for women,” he said. “It’s her body; it’s her privacy.”
About two-thirds of U.S. voters say abortion should be legal in most or all cases, according to AP VoteCast, an expansive survey of over 90,000 voters across the country. Only about 1 in 10 say abortion should be illegal in all cases.
About 6 in 10 also say the Supreme Court’s abortion decision made them dissatisfied or angry, compared with fewer who say they were happy or satisfied.
Michelle Groesser of Swartz Creek, Michigan, said she opposes abortion for any reason, even though she believes that any ban likely would have exceptions to save a woman’s life or if a young girl is impregnated.
“In a perfect world, I personally would want all life preserved,” she said.
Opponents have contended the Michigan measure could have far-reaching effects on other laws in the state, such as one requiring parental notification of an abortion for someone under age 18. Legal experts say changes to other laws would only happen if someone sued and won, a process that could take years and has no certainty of success.
Even so, the messaging appeared to resonate with some Michigan voters, including Brian Bauer, 64, of Mundy Township, who said the proposal was confusing.
Although he opposes abortion, Bauer believes there should be exceptions to save a mother’s life or if a young girl was impregnated, “but nobody’s willing to throw (in) any kind of compromise … it’s either a yes or no vote.”
In Kentucky, voters were considering a ballot measure that would amend the state constitution to say there is no right to abortion.
The Republican-controlled Legislature has already passed a near-total ban. The ballot measure, if approved, would undercut legal arguments from abortion-rights supporters challenging abortion restrictions. The two sides are set to meet in court a week after Election Day.
Lawmakers added the proposed amendment to the ballot last year, a move that some thought would drive more conservative voters to the polls. But since the Roe decision, abortion-rights supporters have raised nearly $1.5 million to fight it. They were hoping to repeat the surprise outcome this summer in conservative Kansas, where voters overwhelmingly defeated a similar amendment that would have allowed the Republican-controlled Legislature to tighten restrictions or ban the procedure outright.
Kentucky voter Jim Stewart, 71, a registered Republican, said he’s against abortion, but still voted no on the amendment. “You got to have a little choice there.”
Al Smith, 83, voted yes: “I don’t believe in abortion at all, not for any circumstance,” he said. Both men spoke at an elementary school in Simpsonville, a small town outside of Louisville.
In Vermont, the reproductive-rights question came after the 2019 passage by the Legislature of a law guaranteeing abortion rights.
California has already passed several measures aimed at easing access to abortion and has set aside millions of taxpayer dollars to help pay for some out-of-state abortion travel. Voters were considering whether to approve language that would explicitly guarantee access to abortion and contraception in the state constitution.
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