Judge rules Michigan’s 1931 abortion ban can’t be enforced

The Michigan Court of Claims ruled Wednesday that the state’s 1931 abortion ban law is ‘unconstitutional’ and cannot be enforced

click to enlarge Supporters of abortion rights rally in Detroit. - Marc Klockow
Marc Klockow
Supporters of abortion rights rally in Detroit.

The Michigan Court of Claims ruled Wednesday that the state’s 1931 abortion ban law is “unconstitutional” and cannot be enforced.

Court of Claims Judge Elizabeth Gleicher, who issued an injunction in May that barred enforcement of the 91-year-old abortion ban, ruled in the Planned Parenthood of Michigan lawsuit to “permanently enjoin” the attorney general from enforcing the law.

The state’s 1931 abortion ban prohibits doctors from performing any abortions except to save the life of the “pregnant woman.”

In her ruling, Gleicher argued that the Michigan Supreme Court defines the Due Process Clause, which grants the right to due process of law and equal protection at both the federal and state levels of government, differently than the U.S. Supreme Court.

She argues that Michigan’s Constitution spells out that the “most pressing rule” when interpreting the Due Process Clause is “that the provisions for protection of life, liberty and property are to be largely and liberally construed in favor of the citizen.”

The back-and-forth legal fights have been non stop since Planned Parenthood of Michigan and Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer filed lawsuits in April to protect legal abortion access in Michigan. These fights have played out in the state’s Court of Appeals, Court of Claims and Supreme Court, and have been exacerbated since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade in June.

After Gleicher’s injunction in the spring, Republicans in the Michigan Legislature filed a motion for leave to appeal, calling the injunction an “egregious abuse of judicial power.” The state Court of Appeals later ruled that county prosecutors are exempt from the injunction. Within the same day, an Oakland County Circuit Court judge reversed that ruling and later reinforced his ruling after hearing oral arguments.

Neither Planned Parenthood of Michigan nor the Attorney General’s office responded to a request for comment on the ruling out of the Court of Claims.

Originally published on Sept. 7, 2022 on Michigan Advance. It is shared here with permission.

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