Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. Senate failed to advance the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would have codified the right to abortion into federal law. At a time when the Supreme Court will likely rule to restrict millions of people’s abortion rights, and Congress has failed to codify Roe v. Wade into law, it is essential that people use democratic tools like ballot measures to preserve the right to safe and legal access to abortion within their states.
Viable initiatives to protect abortion rights through ballot measures are already underway. The Fairness Project-supported campaign in Michigan to proactively protect reproductive rights and abortion access via ballot measure is a first-of-its-kind campaign that could provide a path forward for citizen-led efforts in other red and purple states. Michigan Reproductive Freedom for All recruited more than 20,000 new volunteers since the news leak and saw a surge of small-dollar contributions from grassroots donors. The coalition has until July 11 to collect more than 425,000 signatures in order to qualify the proposal for the November ballot.
In reaction to this, Fairness Project Executive Director Kelly Hall released the following statement:
“This moment has illuminated clearly that we can’t put our human rights in the hands of any individual entity — whether it is Congress, SCOTUS, federal judges, or state officials — we need to protect them ourselves using ballot measures. “There has already been a huge surge in support for the Michigan campaign, showing people are ready to take matters into their own hands with direct democracy. We will continue to support and organize campaigns like Reproductive Freedom For All to defend these rights on the state level.”
Kelly Hall appeared on Crooked’s What A Day podcast this week to discuss how voters can use the citizen-initiated ballot measure process to codify access to abortion and reproductive health care — starting with the campaign in Michigan to pass a constitutional amendment this year.
The Fairness Project gets involved in ballot measures where there is an extreme disconnect between what voters want and what is happening in their governing bodies. A clear example of that is the issue of reproductive freedom, where there is a robust consensus across the American voting public 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.