ODESSA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A man shot and wounded an 84-year-old Michigan woman who was canvassing door-to-door against a proposed constitutional amendment that would guarantee the right to abortion in the state.
The State Police are investigating the Sept. 20 shooting at a home in Odessa Township, a community about 130 miles (209 kilometers) northwest of Detroit.
The canvasser, Joan Jacobson, told investigators that she was asking a woman at the home to vote against Proposal 3 in November when she was told to leave, The Detroit News reported Thursday. She said she was headed to her car when she saw a man standing next to the woman.
“And the next thing I knew, I heard a shot and I felt some pain,” Jacobson told the newspaper. “I was just stunned. The pain was in my back, and it was very severe.”
Jacobson said she then drove to a local police station and was later treated at a hospital.
She didn't immediately reply to a Thursday email from The Associated Press seeking comment.
Richard Harvey, 74, said he shot Jacobson accidentally while she was arguing with his wife after being told numerous times to leave the property, WOOD-TV reported.
“This lady comes up to me, knocks on my door, and says she’s from some coalition to save women and babies,” Sharon Harvey told the TV station. “She needed me to vote ‘no’ on Proposal 3. I told her I can’t do that. She would not take the fact that I was going to vote ‘yes’ on Proposal 3 as an answer. She didn’t care.”
Sharon Harvey said she told the woman to leave their property, but the woman responded, “Well, I have a right to be here,” before eventually stepping off the couple’s porch.
“It got louder and louder. My husband was in the barn and he heard it,” Sharon Harvey said.
Richard Harvey told the television station that he first fired a warning shot at a tree with his wife's .22-caliber rifle.
He said the woman continued “ranting and raving” and waving a clipboard.
“I’m thinking she’s going to smack Sharon with it,” Richard Harvey said. “So without thinking, I went to club it away with the rifle and my finger was still in the trigger guard. It went off and hit her."
Jacobson said she never waved her clipboard. “I didn’t want to hurt her or him,” she said of the Harveys.
The AP was unable to contact Richard or Sharon Harvey.
The State Police's Lakeview Post is investigating the shooting.
Ionia County Prosecutor Kyle Butler said Thursday that no warrant request had been filed with his office.
“I’ve been in constant discussion with the Michigan State Police and the detective sergeant assigned as the primary investigator on the case since Sept. 20,” Butler told The Associated Press. “I have a pretty decent idea about what is being alleged to have occurred. We’re going to wait until the finer details of the facts of the situation are flushed out a bit more.”
Right to Life of Michigan described Jacobson as a long-time volunteer for the organization.
“No one should fear violence while peacefully exercising their constitutionally protected right to free speech,” Anna Visser, a spokeswoman for Right to Life of Michigan, said in a release. “This 84-year old woman is hardly imposing, standing about 5 feet tall. The idea that shooting this woman is at all excusable is a dangerous claim for Americans across the country who engage in peaceful door-to-door canvassing.”
Abortion rights has become one of the most polarizing issues in Michigan and across the nation heading into the Nov. 8 general election.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade which guaranteed a woman's constitutional protections for abortion. It has led to abortion bans in a number of states.
Abortion rights would be constitutionally guaranteed in Michigan if Proposal 3 passes on Nov. 8. A 1931 state law makes it a crime to perform most abortions, but the law was suspended in May and a judge this week followed up by striking it down as unconstitutional.