Michigan Judge Rules Against 90-Year-Old Abortion Ban

Governor praises decision but expects it to be appealed
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 7, 2022 7:45 PM CDT
Michigan Judge Rules Against 90-Year-Old Abortion Ban
Abortion rights supporters rally at the Michigan Capitol in Lansing on June 24.   (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

A near-total ban on abortions in Michigan was struck down Wednesday when a judge ruled the law violates the state constitution. The law, which makes performing an abortion a felony unless the mother's life is at risk, was approved in 1931 but dormant while Roe v. Wade guaranteed access to abortion in the US. "For 50 years, Michiganders have freely exercised the right to safely control their health and their reproductive destinies by deciding when and whether to carry a pregnancy to term," Court of Claims Judge Elizabeth Gleicher wrote, per the Detroit Free Press. "Eliminating abortion access will force pregnant women to forgo control of the integrity of their own bodies, regardless of the effect on their health and lives."

The ruling is the first on the constitutionality of abortion in Michigan since the US Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade in June. The ruling was in response to a lawsuit brought by Planned Parenthood of Michigan against state Attorney General Dana Nessel; Gleicher earlier issued a preliminary injunction intended to prevent enforcement of the 1931 law. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday thanked the judge for her ruling but acknowledged it probably will be appealed. "We know that there's a group of extremists who will stop at nothing to ban abortion even in cases of rape and incest," Whitmer said. Abortion opponents wanted Gleicher to recuse herself over her financial support of Planned Parenthood.

The GOP-controlled Michigan House and Senate both intervened as defendants in the lawsuit and could file an appeal, per CBS News. Abortion rights supporters in the state have taken several legal avenues to try to safeguard access, including trying to place a measure on the November ballot. Gleicher's ruling discussed the differences between the US and Michigan constitutions, particularly on due process. "A law denying safe, routine medical care not only denies women of their ability to control their bodies and their lives—it denies them of their dignity," the judge wrote. "Michigan's Constitution forbids this violation of due process." (More anti-abortion laws stories.)

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