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Group backs initiative for abortion ban after first heartbeat

Woman getting ultrasound
Alexander Raths
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Adobe Stock

A Michigan group is launching a ballot drive to ban abortions after a fetus's heartbeat is detected, with exceptions to protect a pregnant woman's life or health.

The Michigan Heartbeat Coalition filed its initiative wording Tuesday. It's the second ballot committee to push an anti-abortion measure, following a Right to Life-backed group that's seeking to prohibit a second-trimester abortion procedure.

Mark Gurley is with the coalition. He said the group wants to get enough signatures to then send the measure to the state Legislature for a vote. Once that happens, the Republican-led Legislature can pass the measure instead of putting it on the November 2020 ballot – and without the governor’s signature.

“It’s more to just bypass the fact that we don’t need to make this a circus and a parade,” Gurley said of the plans for the measure. “I think the 2020 elections will be heated enough with the presidential election cycle.”

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has said she would veto anti-choice legislation that reaches her desk. Democratic Senator Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) said she will fight any attempt to pass the measure if the Legislature is given the option.

“The attempt to circumvent the governor, I mean it’s very frustrating,” she said. “And what we’ve seen is none of my constituents asked for this. This is an onslaught that’s taking place on the national level to slowly chip away at women’s rights.”

The group needs more than 300,000 qualifying signatures to get on the ballot.

The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting.
Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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