Poll suggests support for abortion rights will motivate Michigan voters in 2022 elections

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The survey found that most voters in Michigan and across the country support leaving Roe v. Wade in place.

The Detroit Chamber of Commerce this week released the results of a poll conducted on its behalf by the Glengariff Group that show a clear majority of Michigan voters support keeping in place the 1973 Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade that affirmed a constitutional right to abortion.

Polls have been fairly consistent on one thing: A majority of Americans do not want to see Roe overturned. The new poll shows that this is no less true in the Wolverine State, and suggests that the issue of reproductive rights could be a prime mover for voter turnout in this Fall’s midterm elections.   

The poll showed that 55% of voters surveyed expressed strong support for leaving Roe in place. Only 25.5% of respondents expressed support for overturning Roe, 10.1% expressed no opinion on the issue, and 5.3% did not know or did not answer the question. 

When asked about the "most important issue" Michigan faces, "Roe v. Wade/abortion" showed up at No. 3, behind "economy/inflation" and "roads/infrastructure." Nearly 11% of respondents mentioned abortion as the issue of most concern to them.

The only demographic group in which a majority supports overturning Roe, according to the poll, are those identifying as "strong Republican," although a plurality of 35.7% of those who "lean Republican" expressed support for keeping it. 

Of all voters surveyed, 58.8% expressed support for a state constitutional amendment to protect reproductive rights. Eighty-seven percent of those who identified as "strong Democrat" said they support such an amendment, while 40% of those identifying as "lean Republican" supported such a measure. 

The survey also found that concerns over Roe v. Wade represented significant motivation for respondents to vote in this year's midterm elections. A total of 61.6% of Democratic women showed an increase in motivation to vote because of the issue versus 31% of Democratic men. Of the women who showed such an increase in motivation, 50.3% expressed "much more" motivation. 

In the event that Roe is overturned, Michigan has on the books a 1931 law banning abortion that could take effect. Planned Parenthood of Michigan filed suit in April to prevent the ban being used to prosecute abortion seekers or providers. Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also filed a lawsuit asking the Oakland County District Court to recognize a right to abortion under the state Constitution's due process and equal protection clauses. 

In addition to these efforts, a coalition including Reproductive Freedom for All, the ACLU of Michigan, and Michigan Voices has started a ballot initiative aiming to put a constitutional amendment before voters in November that would guarantee the right to an abortion. The petition requires 425,059 signatures to be placed on the ballot. 

On May 17, Judge Elizabeth Gleicher of the Michigan Court of Claims issued a preliminary injunction in Planned Parenthood of Michigan v. Attorney General of the State of Michigan against enforcement of the Michigan abortion ban. Barbara McQuade, professor of law at the University of Michigan Law School, said in a comment to the American Independent Foundation, "While there is legal uncertainty until the Michigan Supreme Court decides the case, the current order blocks the 1931 law until further notice."

Several key competitive Michigan congressional districts will likely pivot on candidates' views on abortion, pitting Democrats who favor codifying abortion rights into federal law against Republican candidates who favor handing the decision back to the states.

Glengariff pollster Richard Czuba told the Detroit News that independents, who are generally supportive of reproductive rights, will also be deeply concerned with inflation, which he says will sway their vote. He said of abortion, "In this laundry list of issues that independents use to make a decision about who they're going to support, this is now going to be part of that list in a pretty prominent way."

At the Mackinac Policy Conference, an event sponsored by the Detroit Chamber of Commerce, Whitmer encouraged business leaders to take a stand on reproductive rights and view them as an economic issue: "The most compelling economic decision a woman will make in her lifetime is whether and when to have a child. And if you take a job in Michigan and you don't have that right anymore, that's gonna be a hard sell for us to say Michigan is a place where you should come and make your life."

According to MLive, Whitmer signed the abortion rights ballot initiative on May 25. She told a group of abortion rights activists: "I think that we've got to be using every tool to protect women and our own health care. And so, I'm glad for the effort around collecting signatures to amend our constitution, I'm glad for the Planned Parenthood lawsuit. I'm glad that we seem to have gotten the Supreme Court's attention. We are all working toward the same goal."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.