Washington, DC – Today, Fairness Project Executive Director Kelly Hall appeared on Crooked’s What A Day podcast to discuss how voters can use the citizen-initiated ballot measure process to codify access to abortion and reproductive health care — starting with a campaign in Michigan to pass a constitutional amendment this year.
“There are 23 states around the country, including Washington, D.C., that have citizen-initiated ballot measure processes. So in all 23 of those places, folks can take up clipboards and enact legislation or enact constitutional amendments themselves. They don’t have to wait for elected officials…This is going to be a really powerful tool as advocates start thinking about what the path forward is in Ohio, in Arkansas, in Nebraska, in Montana. These are all places where the ballot measure process may be the only tool in the toolbox since elected officials are unlikely to act,” Kelly Hall said.
Fairness Project gets involved in ballot measures where there is an extreme disconnect between what voters want and what is happening in their state legislatures. A clear example of that is the issue of reproductive freedom, where there is a robust consensus in favor of defending abortion rights. A Washington Post-ABC poll found that 75% of Americans believe decisions on abortion should be left to a woman and her doctor, including 95% of Democrats, 81% of independents and 53% of Republicans. A Gallup poll also found that 80% of the American public think abortion should be legal.
“[Although the] Supreme Court may seem out of reach, even though Congress is likely to try and fail to act this week, that we are not out of options, that just because the eggs that were in our federal advocacy basket may not hatch, there are a lot of other avenues for protecting reproductive freedom and abortion rights in other ways. And this ballot measure is one example of that, but it can be the start of many additional ballot measures, and there are plenty of options left and a lot of work still to be done, and I hope we can channel that despair into action,” Hall added.
Hall also emphasized the growing enthusiasm behind the Reproductive Freedom For All campaign in Michigan, where organizers recruited more than 20,000 new volunteers since the draft Supreme Court majority opinion in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case leaked last week.
“This is one of those moments where the preferences of voters and the actions of legislators are deeply out of sync with each other, and those are the moments when we need to use the direct democracy tool that we have. It’s why Michigan has this mechanism for citizens to bring forward constitutional amendments on the issues that are of the most vital importance,” Hall said.
The Reproductive Freedom for All coalition has until July 11 to collect more than 425,000 signatures in order to qualify the proposal for the November ballot in Michigan.
Listen to Kelly’s full interview on Crooked’s What A Day podcast HERE.