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Ad Lies About Trans Children to Fight Abortion Rights

Ad against Proposal 3
Screen Shot

The ad from a coalition of right-wing groups claims that a measure guaranteeing reproductive freedom in Michigan would let kids receive puberty blockers without parental consent.

LGBTQ+ groups and other civil rights advocates are denouncing an ad being run by opponents of Michigan's Proposal 3, a ballot initiative that would enshrine the right to reproductive freedom in the state constitution.

The ad from Citizens to Support Michigan Women and Children claims that if Proposal 3 is passed by voters this November, children will be able to receive puberty blockers without parental consent. Puberty blockers are often prescribed for transgender children.

"If Proposal 3 passes, minors as young as 10 or 11 will be able to receive this prescription without the consent of their parents," the ad says.

The proposal doesn't mention puberty blockers or any other gender-affirming care, and it wouldn't override parental authorization for medical treatment, but its opponents claim there is "hidden" language in it.

"This is hidden in the text of this amendment, and it would be a permanent change to the Michigan constitution," Christen Pollo, a spokesperson for Citizens to Support Michigan Women and Children, told TV station WLNS. The group is a coalition of anti-abortion organizations, including several that are anti-LGBTQ+ as well, such as the Michigan Family Forum and Citizens for Traditional Values.

Civil rights activists say the ad is hugely misleading. The amendment states that everyone in Michigan has a fundamental right to make their own decisions about reproductive matters, not only abortion but also prenatal and postpartum care, childbirth, contraception, sterilization, and fertility treatments. It allows the state to restrict abortion after the point of fetal viability, usually about 24 weeks.

It was proposed because Michigan has an abortion ban on the books that dates to 1931. When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, states gained the right to ban or severely restrict abortion. A Michigan judge has ruled that the 1931 law violates the state constitution and cannot be enforced, but supporters of abortion rights point out that future court cases could change that.

A coalition that includes the Human Rights Campaign, Equality Michigan Action Network, and others denounced the ad. "The outright false claims in the anti-Proposal 3 ad paid for by the Citizens to Support Michigan Women and Children are designed to intentionally mislead voters by spreading lies about transgender children, their health care and their health care providers," said a statement from HRC Michigan State Director Amritha Venkataraman. "The LGBTQ+ community has always faced attacks from anti-LGBTQ+ politicians and activists trying to mislead voters -- this is merely the latest iteration. These discriminatory ads ignore the facts, such as how Proposal 3 does not even address gender-affirming care. What we're seeing today is nothing more than a new chapter in a lethal playbook that simultaneously attacks LGBTQ+ rights and abortion rights. Proposal 3 protects the right to abortion -- do not fall for their lies."

"In a desperate attempt to change the tide on abortion rights, Proposal 3 opponents once again turned to bogus child protections claims to misinform voters," added Erin Knott, director of Equality Michigan Action Network. "The facts belie their claims, and opposition groups, like Citizens to Support Michigan Women and Children, created a campaign ad designed to trick voters, scaring them with falsehoods. Proposal 3 opponents need to answer for their transphobic scare tactic and vile attack ads, which have been repeatedly debunked by legal experts. Proposal 3 is about reproductive freedom and does not address gender affirming care for transgender youth."

Others joining in condemnation of the ad include the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, Affirmations, Gender-Identity Network Alliance, Great Lakes Bay Pride, Grand Rapids Pride Center, LGBT Detroit, OutFront Kzoo, and Stand With Trans.

Since the reversal of Roe in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization ruling, reproductive freedom has become an even bigger electoral issue than before, and not only as it relates to candidates' positions. In August, Kansas voters roundly rejected a ballot initiative that would have changed the state's constitution to say the right to abortion is not guaranteed.

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