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Anti-abortion activists file lawsuit against the 'Right to Reproductive Health' amendment

November 22, 2023
<p>Michigan residents gather in support of the anti-abortion movement at the Right to Life March at the Capitol Building on Jan. 28, 2023.</p>

Michigan residents gather in support of the anti-abortion movement at the Right to Life March at the Capitol Building on Jan. 28, 2023.

The American Freedom Law Center and Great Lakes Justice Center filed a 36-page lawsuit challenging Article I, § 28 of the Michigan constitution, also known as Proposal 3, on the anniversary of its passage, Nov. 8.

Prop. 3 established that “every individual has a right to reproductive freedom, including the right to make and carry out pregnancy-related decisions such as those concerning prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, contraception, sterilization, abortion, miscarriage management, and infertility care.” 

It also establishes that Michigan may enact laws “regulating abortion after fetal viability, but not prohibit it if medically needed to protect a patient’s life or mental health,” “forbid state discrimination” and "prohibits persecution” of an individual getting an abortion. 

The citizen-initiated amendment passed with an approval rating of 56.66% after Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (2022) overturned landmark case Roe v. Wade (1973) in June 2022, making abortions no longer a federally constitutionally protected right.

 The lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of 16 named plaintiffs, argues that Prop. 3 is in violation of the federal constitution, citing the 14th Amendment and 1st Amendment. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson are all named as defendants in the suit. 

The plaintiffs include anti-abortion organizations Right to Life Michigan, American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Christian Medical and Dental Associates, Save the 1 and the Crossroads Care Center. 

Michigan politicians named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit include: Rep. Gina Johnsen (R-Lake Odessa) and Rep. Luke Meerman (R-Coopersville). 

Other plaintiffs named in the lawsuit include seven individual anti-abortion activists and “Jane Roe, a fictitious name on behalf of all pre-born babies,” a reference to Norma McCorvey’s alias of the same name in the landmark Roe v. Wade case. 

Right to Life Michigan Legislative Director Genevieve Marnon said that Prop. 3 violates the 14th amendment by excluding parents from their children’s reproductive health decisions.

“This violates parental rights protected by the 14th amendment because it deprives parents of the right to direct the upbringing and education of their minor children by excluding them from their children’s decisions regarding reproduction, which is a very broad area,” Marnon said. 

The lawsuit also claims that Prop. 3 violates the 1st amendment right to freedom of religion by “overriding any objections to endorsing, providing, or supporting procedures involving reproduction … on religious grounds.” 

Planned Parenthood Generative Action Outreach Chair Meg Ryan said that the organization is “very against” the lawsuit in question

Ryan said that the lawsuit is an “immediate reaction” to Prop. 3 and is also in response to the passage of the Reproductive Health Act, which eliminated existing barriers to abortion. 

She said that she believes that Prop. 3 is a legitimate amendment and is not in violation of the federal constitution

“We do trust our legislators and our representatives to do the right thing,” Ryan said. “We trust that Prop. 3 is safe and in the voters hands because it was completely voted on and you can't go against that.”

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