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Politics & Government

Leaked documents suggest the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe. What would that mean for Michigan?

The Roe v. Wade decision
Michigan Radio
The 1971 Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion in the United States.

A draft opinion published by Politico Monday evening indicates that the U.S. Supreme Court privately voted to strike down the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

"Roe was egregiously wrong from the start," the draft opinion states.

The draft was signed by Justice Samuel Alito, who was appointed by former President George W. Bush, and indicates that a majority of the Court voted in favor of the ruling.

The final ruling isn't expected until June, and could change before it is officially published. But is seems clear that the Supreme Court will give the question of abortion rights to individual states.

What does that mean for Michigan?

First, Roe remains the law of the land — for now. Until the Court's decision is made official, and does in fact overturn the 1973 decision, abortion remains a right and is still legally accessible.

What happens after the ruling is official is slightly more unclear for Michigan.

The state has a 1931 law on the books which makes providing an abortion a felony, unless ending a pregnancy is necessary to save the life of the woman. Unlike similar laws in other states, there is no time within a pregnancy where abortion would be allowed. There is also no exception for cases of rape or incest.

As of now, when the Supreme Court ruling is made official, that law will immediately go into effect throughout the state.

But there are efforts underway to stop that from happening.

Last month, Governor Gretchen Whitmer filed a lawsuit with the Michigan Supreme Court that seeks to strike down the 1931 law.

The lawsuit requests that the state Court declare that abortion rights are protected by the state Constitution. Whitmer says that would prohibit local prosecutors from enforcing the ban.

She also asked the state Supreme Court to bypass lower courts and take the case right away, a request that will likely become more urgent now that the U.S. Supreme Court decision has been leaked.

Planned Parenthood of Michigan filed a similar lawsuit with the state Supreme Court the same day as Whitmer.

The Michigan Supreme Court has not yet issued any indication of whether it will take up the lawsuits.

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