LANSING, Mich. — Here in Michigan the end of Roe v. Wade could mean the return of a 1931 law that criminalizes abortion.
The leaked U.S. Supreme Court opinion indicating that the court is ready to overturn the 1973 ruling is only a draft, meaning things could change, but Attorney General Dana Nessel says that, if the old law is put back into place, it could mean jail time not only for doctors but even women who try to get abortions.
“Now, what will that mean for us here in Michigan? Michigan is one of the states that has what we call a trigger law," said Nessel. "And what that means is that abortion is not just illegal. It's a crime."
That 1931 law is still on the book. It only became unenforceable when Roe v. Wade went into effect.
"And so what does that mean? It means that prosecutors in all 83 counties could prosecute the criminal offense of abortion. They could prosecute a person who performs an abortion," Nessel said. "I would argue that it's possible for a prosecutor to interpret this as to actually prosecute a woman who is attempting to self abort.”
But Nessel says she will not prosecute doctors who provide abortions nor women who seek them.
Ingham County Prosecutor Carol Siemon agrees. Siemon signed onto a pledge back in 2020 to not prosecute doctors or women who try to get the procedure.
“What brings us together is our view that as prosecutors we should not and will not criminalize healthcare decisions such as these," wrote Fair and Just Prosecution, of which Siemon is a member. "And we believe it is our obligation as elected prosecutors charged with protecting the health and safety of all members of our community to make our views clear.”
Both Nessel and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer have vowed to challenge the return of this law and protect the reproductive rights of Michigan women.
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