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Status of Abortion Rights in Michigan After Roe’s Overturning

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What does the fall of Roe v. Wade mean for Michigan right now? Many states automatically have trigger laws taking effect, but in Michigan it’s a bit more complicated.

“We are so excited to hear that Roe was overturned,” said Anna-Marie Visser of Right to Life Michigan.

“This is really a shot across the bow,” said Sen. Winnie Brinks, “That we cannot count on this Supreme Court to defend the rights that we have enjoyed for so long.”

No matter what side you sit on, Friday’s announcement by the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade is monumental. Federally, abortions are now illegal.

In Michigan, they are still legal, for now.

“That remains the law in Michigan right now,” said Attorney General Dana Nessel, “The 1931 law is unenforceable, as of this moment.”

That 1931 law would make abortions illegal but there is currently a stay placed on it as the state court system works through two lawsuits, one by Planned Parenthood and one by Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

So while still legal, at any moment the courts can rule and change the law in Michigan.

“If I’m a medical provider right now, I want certainty,” said Nessel, “I want a ruling from the court. I don’t want this temporary stay, I want to know for sure.”

Basically the Michigan Supreme Court has a few options. First they can end any debate right now and find the 1931 law unconstitutional based on the Right to Privacy and body autonomy. The right to an abortion is protected by the state constitution.

“Any other decision, whether they find for the 1931 law or against it, means that subsequent legislators, depending on who’s in power, can change or amend that law,” said Michael McDaniel of WMU Cooley Law School.

That would mean the Republican-lead legislature would decide the future of abortion in the state, and that’s probably to ban it. Another option is a ballot initiative. Voters decide to make it an amendment and rock solid.

“It means that no Michigan Supreme Court decision can later impact reproductive rights,” said Nessel, “No matter who sits on the Court and it also means that will supersede any statutory authority.”

After fifty years Roe fell, so even with a state constitutional amendment created, the fight will not be over. It would just be more difficult to flip.

“It’s going to be a fight on both sides. If this ballot proposal goes through in November and people vote for it,” said Visser, “We’re going to keep fighting to have another constitutional amendment pass through to say we want human rights for all humans in Michigan.”