‘I refuse to enforce’ AG Nessel Discusses Future of Michigan Abortion Rights

It’s important to look at what would happen in Michigan if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

There is a law on Michigan’s books from 1931 that effectively bans abortions in the state, if the US Supreme Court does in fact decide to over turn Roe v. Wade.Rvw Reax Pkg 5 3 2200 00 35 08still001

Last month, Governor Gretchen Whitmer filed a lawsuit and used her executive authority to ask the Michigan Supreme Court to resolve whether or not Michigan’s constitution protects the right to abortion. The lawsuit asks the states high court to recognize a constitutional right to an abortion under the due process clause of the Michigan constitution. It also asks the court to stop enforcement of the 1931 Michigan abortion ban if Roe is overturned.

The governor released a statement on the lawsuit, saying in part, “The words ‘Roe overturned’ are no longer theoretical. I want every Michigander to know – no matter what happens in DC, I‘m going to fight like hell to protect access to safe, legal abortion in Michigan…”

There are 13 states you that have already passed so called trigger laws recently. These laws would go into effect, banning abortion in the states, if Roe v. Wade is overturned. While Michigan has not passed a trigger law recently, they essentially have one in the 1931 abortion ban on.

“Now if they get rid of Roe, it is accurate to say that it sends it back to the states,” said Brendan Beery, contitutional professor at WMU Cooley Law School.

Once final, The overturn of Roe v. Wade will put the decision on the states. Here in Michigan, that means abortion would be illegal due to a law that laid dormant while Roe was the federal law.

“I think most state legislators did not think they needed to formally repeal those laws because no one saw this coming,” said Beery.

In Michigan, that means a four year felony for any individual that administers a procedure or pill causing a miscarriage.

“The only exception we have in our law, it’s not rape, it’s not incest, it’ll need to save the life of the mother,” said Attorney General Dana Nessel, ” But that’s a question for the courts.”

Nessel has said while she is in office, the law will not change.

“In this case, I refuse to enforce and I’ve said that I’m not going to defend,” said Nessel, “I believe it’s indefensible.”

County prosecutors would still be able to bring charges. So if the governor’s lawsuit fails, the future of abortion rights in Michigan will now come to the ballot box. Either by a statewide proposal with voters deciding or the legislature making a decision to overturn that 1931 law.

“If a state legislator said yes or said no, well that’s interesting because they don’t have really much of an ability to have a direct impact on it,” said Nessel, “But now all of a sudden, they do.”

As for the Supreme Court. an overturn of settled law like Roe, could set the precedent for more massive shifts on other decisions.

Nessel said, “It really calls into question what other rights will be lost by Americans?”

Categories: Election 2022