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Doctors ask state Supreme Court to rule on Whitmer abortion question

A split photo of two protests--one against abortion rights and one for. On the left, someone in a pink coat and purple hat holds a red sign that says "Let Their Hearts Beat" in black and white lettering and on the right, an arm holds up a white sign that says "Protect safe, legal abortion" in handwritten pink block letters
Maria Oswalt/Gayatri Malhotra
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With the U.S. Supreme Court expected to reverse, or at least roll back, the rights protected by Roe v. Wade, Michigan activists on both sides of the debate are gearing up for a statewide fight this election year.

A group of more than 500 physicians filed an amicus brief Wednesday with the Michigan Supreme Court.

The Committee to Protect Health Care is trying to nudge the court to grant a request from Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who wants the court to rule abortion rights are constitutionally safeguarded and a 1931 abortion ban still on the books that threatens providers with felony charges is null and void.

Dr. Rossana DeGrood said the 1931 law is vague and outdated.

“Doctors are in the dark about the potential legal consequences if Michigan law enforcement, a prosecutor, or a court disagrees with our professional medical judgment,” she said during an online news conference.

Abortion remains legal in Michigan under a lower court ruling that bars enforcement of the 1931 ban, but the doctors say only the Supreme Court can bring clarity on its constitutionality without further litigation or a protracted wait for the results of an abortion rights proposal on the November ballot.

“Any regulation of medical care, which includes abortion, should have a scientific justification and prioritize protecting patients’ health, which this 1931 law doesn’t do in 2022,” said family Dr. Farhan Bhatti.

The doctors filed the amicus brief as an interested party in the Whitmer case.

The Michigan Supreme Court has not given any indication of whether it plans to make a ruling or when.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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