Two Michigan groups have filed preemptive lawsuits to block the state's decades-old abortion ban as the U.S. Supreme Court weighs a decision that could overturn Roe v. Wade.
Planned Parenthood of Michigan and local abortion provider Dr. Sarah Wallet filed a suit Thursday to restrain Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel from enforcing the state’s 91-year old ban against abortion providers.
Michigan has had an abortion ban on the books since 1931, but Roe v. Wade guarantees abortion rights on a federal level, making Michigan's statute unenforceable (for now).
However, the state’s abortion ban was never actually repealed or blocked by court order. This means if Roe v. Wade gets overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, which could happen as they decide the Mississippi case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the outdated law will go back into effect — and abortion will be illegal in Michigan again.
“I’m an abortion provider, and the care my colleagues and I provide every day to our patients is essential to their ability to lead the lives they choose,” Dr. Wallet said in a statement. “I joined this suit because it is fundamental to my oath as a physician to do no harm — and being forced to deny abortion care and violating the basic rights of my patients would cause them immense, irreversible harm. Michiganders deserve to know that the health care they have relied on for 50 years will be there when they need it, no matter what.”
The Michigan ACLU filed a similar lawsuit Thursday asking the court to rule that the 1931 ban violates Michigan’s state constitution.
The group is also collecting signatures to place its “Reproductive Freedom for All” measure on the November 2022 ballot. The campaign aims to amend the Michigan Constitution to affirm abortion, birth control, miscarriage, and childbirth rights “without political interference,” according to their website.
Meanwhile, seven Michigan prosecutors have vowed not to enforce the archaic 1931 abortion laws, pledging to protect a woman’s right to choose instead.
This includes Wayne Country Prosecutor Kym Worthy, Oakland Country Prosecutor Karen McDonald, Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon, Washtenaw County Prosecutor Eli Savit, Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeffrey Getting, Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton, and Marquette County Prosecutor Matthew J. Wiese.
“We believe those laws conflict with the oath we took to support the United States and Michigan Constitutions, and to act in the best interest of the health and safety of our communities,” a joint statement reads. “We cannot and will not support criminalizing reproductive freedom or creating unsafe, untenable situations for health care providers and those who seek abortions in our communities. Instead, we will continue to dedicate our limited resources towards the prosecution of serious crimes and the pursuit of justice for all.”
In a press release, the group of prosecutors point out there were no women serving in the Michigan legislature in 1931 when the state’s anti-abortion statutes were written.
They also echoed support for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer who filed a separate lawsuit Thursday asking the Michigan Supreme Court to “immediately resolve whether Michigan’s Constitution protects the right to abortion.”
“In the coming weeks, we will learn if the U.S. Supreme Court decides to overturn Roe v. Wade. If Roe is overturned, abortion could become illegal in Michigan in nearly any circumstance — including in cases of rape and incest — and deprive Michigan women of the ability to make critical health care decisions for themselves,” a statement from Whitmer’s office reads. “This is no longer theoretical: it is reality. That’s why I am filing a lawsuit and using my executive authority to urge the Michigan Supreme Court to immediately resolve whether Michigan’s state constitution protects the right to abortion.”
Michigan is one of 26 states that could eliminate access to abortion ifRoe v. Wade gets overturned.
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