A Michigan judge has preemptively blocked enforcement of a 1931 law that would ban abortions in almost all cases if the Supreme Court takes long-awaited action to strike down the constitutional right to abortion.
Chief Justice Elizabeth Gleicher of the state Court of Claims on Tuesday issued an injunction in a lawsuit brought by Planned Parenthood of Michigan that argues the nearly century-old law violates the state Constitution.
“The court finds it highly likely that the plaintiffs will prevail on the merits of their constitutional challenge,” Judge Gleicher wrote. “A preliminary injunction serves the public interest, allowing the court to fully rule on the merits of the case without subjecting plaintiffs and their patients to the impact of a total ban on abortion services in this state.”
The injunction means that even if Roe v. Wade was overturned, the Michigan law would not come back into effect until the Planned Parenthood lawsuit is resolved. The lawsuit was filed against Attorney General Dana Nessel, who said she would not enforce the 1931 law even if Roe were overturned. However, she is up for re-election in November, and those who support abortion rights fear that future leaders will enforce a criminal ban.
Ms Nessel said she would not appeal the decision and called the injunction “a victory for the millions of women in Michigan who are fighting for their rights”. Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who is also a candidate for re-election and has filed a separate lawsuit seeking to block enforcement of the 1931 law, hailed the ruling as a “significant victory for Michiganders.”
The Supreme Court appears set to overturn Roe, based on a leaked draft opinion in a case involving a 15-week abortion ban in Mississippi. Removing Roe’s constitutional protections on abortion would give individual states control over whether to license the procedure. Although no official decision has been issued, the leak has amplified a political and legislative storm. Some states have stepped up efforts to restrict abortion, while others have rushed to lock down abortion rights.
Michigan’s law has been dormant since the Roe decision in 1973 rendered it obsolete. The law makes providing an abortion in the state a crime unless the life of the pregnant woman is in danger.
In addition to Michigan, eight other states — Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin — have pre-Roe bans in place, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights.
“In the past two weeks since the Supreme Court bill leaked, I’ve dreaded the day I could wake up and abortion would be illegal in Michigan,” said Sarah Wallett, chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood. of Michigan. She said the injunction gave her hope that the merits of the group’s case were seen as strong.
Bonsitu Kitaba, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, which was part of the lawsuit for Planned Parenthood, said she was pleased with the injunction.
The State of Roe v. Wade
What is Roe vs. Wade? Roe v. Wade is a landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States. The 7-2 decision was announced on January 22, 1973. Judge Harry A. Blackmun, a lowly Midwestern Republican and abortion rights advocate, wrote the majority opinion.
“We know there were prosecutors willing to prosecute individuals under this law, and now we can just breathe a sigh of relief,” Ms Kitaba said.
Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian legal organization representing two anti-abortion groups in the state, Right to Life of Michigan and the Michigan Catholic Conference, spoke out against Tuesday’s decision.
John Bursch, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, told a press conference that the judge “engaged in an analysis without any advocacy on the other side, and clearly erred in its legal conclusions”.
He argued that the case should be dismissed because the two parties, the Michigan Attorney General and Planned Parenthood, agreed on the issues in the case. He also questioned Judge Gleicher’s impartiality, pointing to her donations to Planned Parenthood.
Michigan abortion rights activists are also seeking to add a ballot measure to the November election that would amend the state Constitution to include an abortion right. They must collect 425,029 signatures to appear on the ballot.