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Organizations react to Michigan Court of Claims ruling, 1931 abortion ban unconstitutional

Posted at 10:39 AM, Sep 09, 2022

LANSING, Mich. — A Michigan Court of Claims judge ruled earlier this week that the state’s 1931 abortion ban, which criminalizes performing an abortion, violates portions of the state Constitution. It’s just the latest in the ongoing fight after the fall of Roe v. Wade last spring. Now, opponents and supporters of abortion rights say the fight still isn’t over.

“The Court of Claims decision is just white noise, really," said Genevieve Marnon, executive director of Right to Life Michigan. "Abortions are happening today. They're going to continue to happen until we can appeal it to the Supreme Court. And hopefully they will do the right thing and determine, as we know, there is no right to abortion in the Michigan Constitution."

“Planned Parenthood of Michigan is just so thrilled and relieved both for our patients and our providers," said Ashlea Phenicie, director of communications for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan. "It's just so affirming and reassuring to have the Court of Claims be so clear in their ruling that this 1931 ban is unconstitutional under Michigan State Constitution.

Two different reactions from groups here in Michigan that have been locked in a legal back-and-forth since June. The ruling came from Michigan Court of Claims Judge Elizabeth Gleicher. She orginally handed down a preliminary injunction on the 1931 law shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization was leaked. This prevented the 1931 law from taking effect after Roe v. Wade was overturned.

In this latest ruling she wrote, “A law denying safe, routine medical care not only denies women of their ability to control their bodies and their lives– it denies them of their dignity. Michigan’s Constitution forbids this violation of due process.”

The move does not mean abortion access is here to stay in Michigan necessarily.

“We filed today our challenge in the Supreme Court on the initiative. I know that we have also filed to intervene in the Gov. Whitmer's case at the Circuit Court. And so we're doing what we can," said Marnon.

In short, that means that the legal battle isn’t over, it has just moved its way to our state’s highest court.

“Our attorneys, God bless them, they're working night and day," Marnon said.

And the same is true on the other side of the argument as well.

“Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan is still working with the Reproductive Freedom for All coalition to pass a ballot measure in November that would explicitly enshrine reproductive freedom into the Michigan Constitution and make sure that the protections of Roe could never be threatened by other other bands that might be passed, other restrictions, and make sure that we don't have to continue this legal back and forth," Phenicie said.

After a ruling from the Michigan Supreme Court on Thursday, arguing that the petitions should be certified, the Michigan Board of State Canvassers is expected to place the Reproductive Freedom For All proposal on the November ballot on Friday.

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