Groups backing two anti-abortion ballot drives in Michigan said Wednesday that they will begin collecting signatures within days after clearing procedural steps at the state elections board following a debate over what abortion-rights advocates complained are misleading and inaccurate summaries atop the petitions.
The measures are citizen-initiated bills, meaning that if enough voters sign, the Republican-led Legislature could enact them into law without the signatures of Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who has vowed to veto similar proposals that were introduced as regular legislation.
The bipartisan Board of State Canvassers approved 100-word summaries for petitions to be circulated by the Michigan Heartbeat Coalition — which proposes banning abortions when a fetal heartbeat is detected, or as early as six weeks into a pregnancy — and Michigan Values Life. The latter organization, which is affiliated with Right to Life of Michigan, supports prohibiting a common second-trimester abortion known as dilation and evacuation, which abortion opponents call “dismemberment.”
The proposals have differing exceptions to protect a mother’s life or health.
Representatives from Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists opposed the summaries that were prepared by the state elections bureau. They cited “incendiary,” medically inaccurate language that, in the case of the heartbeat measure, does not tell would-be signers that abortion would be banned at or around six weeks.
The four-member board agreed to use the term “cardiac activity” instead of “fetal heartbeat” at the behest of two Democratic members, but otherwise left intact the proposed summaries.
“I do think it’s neutral. I think it’s fair. I think we need to leave it up to people who are going to sign the petition and the voters at the ballot box to determine whether or not to support or oppose the proposal,” Republican board member Aaron Van Langevelde said of the measure that would restrict D&E abortions.
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[Editor’s Note: This article was written by David Eggert and originally published at ABC News. Title changed by P&P.]
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