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Stateside Podcast: Michigan’s looming fight over abortion rights

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.

For almost as long as its been a state, Michigan has had laws on the books that make abortion illegal. The most recent one was passed in 1931. 

But for nearly five decades now, it’s been rendered pretty much moot by the U.S. Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade. 

“Should Roe fall, as many think it might, Michigan law making abortion a felony for the person who provides it, meaning the physician, would come back into full force," explained Zach Gorchow, executive editor of Gongwer News Service - Michigan.

It would also upend the federal grounding that has shaped state laws for decades. And Michigan advocates on both sides of the issue are already gearing up for a fight. 

On today's pod, we talked to Gorchow about the legal and political context for that fight, and heard from activists on either side of the debate about how they are adapting to this new era of the abortion debate.

We spoke with Nicole Wells Stallworth, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan. The organization is part of a coalition backing a petition to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution. And we also heard from Genevieve Marnon, legislative director for Right to Life of Michigan.

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Stateside’s theme music is by 14KT.

Additional music by Blue Dot Sessions.

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April Van Buren
April Van Buren is a producer for Stateside. She produces interviews for air as well as web and social media content for the show.