Court Temporarily Blocks Michigan’s 1931 Abortion Ban, Finding That It Likely Violates State Constitution

DETROIT, MICHIGAN, UNITED STATES - 2022/05/07: Protesters hold placards, chant, and march through downtown Detroit in support of Roe v Wade. Pro-choice activists march through the streets of downtown Detroit, Michiga... DETROIT, MICHIGAN, UNITED STATES - 2022/05/07: Protesters hold placards, chant, and march through downtown Detroit in support of Roe v Wade. Pro-choice activists march through the streets of downtown Detroit, Michigan to protest a leaked document that showed that the U.S Supreme Court was prepared to overturn Roe v. Wade. (Photo by Matthew Hatcher/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) MORE LESS

The Michigan Court of Claims on Tuesday granted a temporary injunction blocking enforcement of a 1931 law that would ban nearly all abortions in the state. 

The law has lain dormant while Supreme Court precedent held that there was a constitutional right to abortion, but could spring back to life if Roe v. Wade is overturned, as it is expected to be in the coming months. The law would make performing all abortions a felony except those done to save the life of the woman. 

Planned Parenthood filed the suit at almost the same time that Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) filed a similar one in Oakland County Circuit Court, seeking to use her executive authority to prompt immediate intervention from the state Supreme Court. 

The Court of Claims found that the law would likely run afoul of the state constitution’s due process principles, including a right to bodily autonomy. 

“Forced pregnancy, and the concomitant compulsion to endure medical and psychological risks accompanying it, contravene the right to make autonomous medical decisions,” the ruling, written by Judge Elizabeth Gleicher, said. “If a woman’s right to bodily integrity is to have any real meaning, it must incorporate her right to make decisions about the health events most likely to change the course of her life: pregnancy and childbirth.”

The decision is a temporary one, but would stand until the court makes a final decision. In the meantime, the court has blocked enforcement of the 1931 law. Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat, already said that her office wouldn’t enforce it, but county prosecutors could have also brought charges under the law. 

“From a constitutional standpoint, the right to obtain a safe medical treatment is indistinguishable from the right of a patient to refuse treatment,” the opinion said. “Based on the due process principles discussed above, the Court finds a substantial likelihood that MCL 750.14 violates the Due Process Clause of Michigan’s Constitution.”

It added that letting the law stand would cause “irreparable harm” to Planned Parenthood and its patients. 

“The balancing of hardships strongly weighs in plaintiffs’ favor,” it reads. “MCL 750.14 criminalizes virtually all abortions, and if enforced, will abruptly and completely end the availability of abortion services in Michigan.”

Parties have 30 days to tell the court whether a full trial on the merits is necessary. 

Many blue states have preemptively passed laws or even pushed to amend their constitutions to enshrine the right to an abortion within their borders. 

Wisconsin, similar to Michigan, has a 19th-century state law on the books that would criminalize almost all abortions. The attorney general there, also a Democrat, has said that he would not enforce the law. 

Read the ruling here:

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