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Michigan abortion ban is unconstitutional, Court of Claims judge rules

a sign that says "stop abortion now" and another that says "keep abortion legal"
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A Michigan court has found the state’s 1931 abortion ban unconstitutional.

State Court of Claims Judge Elizabeth Gleicher ruled Wednesday that the Michigan Constitution’s due process clause is broad enough to include a woman’s right to an abortion.

The law would make abortion a felony except when “necessary to preserve the life” of a woman.

The ban had been dormant under Roe v. Wade, but the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision earlier this summer removed federal protections for abortion rights and made Michigan’s abortion ban the subject of a fierce legal battle.

Gleicher’s permanent injunction applies to all 83 county prosecutors.

Dr. Sarah Wallett, the chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood of Michigan, said the order means abortion rights are protected while there’s still a lot of litigation pending.

"This does help reassure providers and patients who are really worried that that might not always be the case in Michigan," she said.

"We can be reassured that abortion access in Michigan is here, that I can keep providing health care to patients, that people in Michigan can keep coming to their appointments, and I don’t have to worry about criminal prosecution for providing the health care to my patients that they need," said Wallett.

David Kallman, one of the lawyers who argued in favor of upholding the state's abortion ban, said Gleicher overstepped her authority.

"Unbelievable. Talk about a shift and a change in our constitutional form of government. I didn’t realize the state of Michigan now, according to Judge Gleicher, controls and runs all 83 county prosecutors’ offices in this state," Kallman said.

Michigan abortion providers and their legal advocates have said the ban would put women’s health at risk and damage the practice of medicine.

A series of court rulings has blocked the law from being enforced while the legal fight progressed after Roe was overturned.

The case Gleicher ruled on Wednesday is one of several abortion-related legal cases in play. It could join at least three other decisions that have been appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court.

Separately, the state Supreme Court is considering whether to place a proposed amendment on the November 8 ballot that would add abortion rights to the Michigan Constitution.

Supporters submitted more than 700,000 signatures, easily clearing the threshold for inclusion on the ballot. But a tie vote by the Board of State Canvassers over spacing issues on the petition has kept it off the ballot so far.

The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting.
Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
Brett joined Michigan Radio in December 2021 as an editor.
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