Editorial: Michigan must seek middle ground on abortion

The Detroit News

Now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade and rightfully returned the issue to the people in their respective states, Michigan has an opportunity to craft a law that aligns with the views of the majority of its residents. But that moderate approach, unfortunately, has few advocates among policymakers.

Instead, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is leading abortion rights proponents in a ballot drive to cement abortion rights in the state Constitution, which would place the matter off-limits to future lawmakers.

On the other side, four of the five Republican gubernatorial candidates told The Detroit News during endorsement interviews that they would support a law outlawing abortion in all cases, except to spare the life of the mother. Kevin Rinke said he would support additional exceptions, as well.

Michigan Republicans should work with Democrats to craft consensus legislation that reflects the will of a majority of residents on this contentious issue.

Neither the Democratic or Republican position represents the will of the Michigan people on this issue.

The ballot proposal is extreme, and would make this state among the most wide open for abortion in the country. Michigan already accounted for the fifth highest number of abortions nationally in 2019 and rose to a 30-year high in 2020.

Among other things, the proposal would permit almost no restrictions on how late and under what conditions a pregnancy could be terminated. It would also restrict the Legislature from enacting policies to ensure the safety of the procedure or to preserve parental rights.

Polls consistently show Michigan residents favor keeping abortion legal with the sort of reasonable restrictions the ballot measure would forbid.

But voters may be pushed to supporting it because of the countervailing extreme positions of Republican leaders on the issue. GOP legislative leaders have indicated they are comfortable allowing the state's 1931 law criminalizing abortion to take effect again now that the High Court has invalidated Roe.

That law presently cannot be enforced because of a temporary injunction in the state Court of Claims. The ruling is being appealed.

If Republicans hope to head off the ballot initiative, they should embrace consensus legislation, worked out with Democrats, that spells out when and under what conditions abortions might be obtained in Michigan.

That's what Michigan residents deserve, along with an end to this bitter decades-long fight.

The hope of the Supreme Court ruling is that laws crafted by the states will reflect the will of the people of the states.

That must be the goal in Michigan.