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Judge suspends 1931 abortion ban in Michigan

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DETROIT (AP) — A judge suspended Michigan’s decades-old abortion ban on Tuesday, meaning the procedure would not be illegal in the state even if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns its historic decision Roe v. Wade.

Michigan’s law, which criminalizes assisted abortion, has been in effect since 1931. But it has had no practical effect since 1973, when the Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide.

The court, however, could overturn the landmark ruling before July, leaving abortion issues up to each state to decide.

Claims Court Judge Elizabeth Gleicher granted a preliminary injunction sought by Planned Parenthood of Michigan, saying the abortion ban likely violates the Michigan Constitution.

“After 50 years of legal abortion in Michigan, there is no doubt that the right to personal autonomy and bodily integrity enjoyed by our citizens includes the right of a woman, in consultation with her physician, to ‘terminate a pregnancy,’ the judge said. mentioned.

“From a constitutional perspective, the right to obtain safe medical treatment is indistinguishable from a patient’s right to refuse treatment,” Gleicher said.

Gleicher said Michigan’s other laws regulating abortion will remain in full effect. The injunction will remain in place until the judge issues a final decision in the coming months or a higher court intervenes.

“No matter what happens in the Supreme Court, access to abortion remains protected in Michigan while our comprehensive case blocks this antiquated law once and for all,” said Dr. Sarah Wallett of Planned Parenthood, who offers abortion services.

The Attorney General’s office generally defends itself against challenges to Michigan laws. But Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat, said she would not defend or enforce the abortion ban. She, too, believes it is unconstitutional and welcomed the injunction.

John Bursch, an attorney representing Right to Life of Michigan and the Michigan Catholic Conference, was sharply critical, saying Gleicher drafted an “extraordinary and unprecedented decision.” The groups were not official parties in the case, but were allowed to file opposing briefs.

“It’s the kind of mess you end up with in the court system when the state’s chief executive and his attorney general refuse to uphold and defend the law that’s been in place since 1931,” Bursch said. “They may not like it. But no one has the ability to unilaterally ignore, change, encourage the invalidation of Michigan law. They should follow the democratic process like anyone else.

It’s possible the Republican-controlled legislature could file an appeal. Governor Gretchen Whitmer, meanwhile, called the decision a victory.

“This will help ensure that Michigan remains a place where women have freedom and control over their own bodies,” the Democrat said.

In May, Politico released a leaked version of a U.S. Supreme Court opinion, which showed the court may be on the verge of overturning Roe v. Wade.

The lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood is one of Michigan’s two legal challenges. Whitmer, who supports abortion rights, asked the Michigan Supreme Court to override lower courts and declare the 91-year-old law unconstitutional. This effort is pending.

Both lawsuits preceded the leak of the draft notice. But these are examples of the rush across the country as states brace for Roe’s downfall.

Gleicher, who is also chief justice of the Michigan Court of Appeals, told the parties in April that she makes annual contributions to Planned Parenthood and, as an attorney, had represented the organization in a court case. abortion in 1997. She said she didn’t think that should disqualify her.

“She should have recused herself,” Bursch said.


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