Morning Sun

Roe v. Wade draft opinion jolts Michigan

Whitmer seeks to abolish 1931 law banning abortion

- By David Eggert

LANSING » A draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion that would overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision reverberat­ed in political battlegrou­nd Michigan, where a near-total abortion ban may take effect again after nearly 50 years and is unlikely to be changed by the Republican-led Legislatur­e.

There is increased attention in Michigan on the state courts, where Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Planned Parenthood — anticipati­ng the ruling — filed lawsuits less than a month ago seeking to invalidate the dormant 1931 law that remains on the books. The governor wants the Michigan Supreme Court to declare a constituti­onal right to abortion by recognizin­g the rights to privacy and bodily integrity. She argues the law is invalid under the due process and equal protection clauses of the state constituti­on.

The developmen­t also put a focus on the November election,

when the governor and legislator­s are up for reelection and voters may decide whether to enshrine abortion rights in the state constituti­on.

“Women are waking up this morning feeling hopeless; but we can’t go back. I’m more motivated than ever to keep fighting like hell to ensure abortion remains safe and accessible in Michigan,” Whitmer tweeted.

The leaked draft opinion published Monday by Politico in effect states there is no constituti­onal right to abortion services and would allow individual states to more heavily regulate or outright ban the procedure. A Supreme Court statement emphasized that the draft is not the justices’ final word.

Michigan’s pre-roe law, which followed a similar 1846 law, makes it a fouryear felony to use an instrument or administer any substance with the intent to abort a fetus unless necessary to preserve the woman’s life. It has no exceptions in cases of rape and incest, and Whitmer has said Michigan would have “one of the most extreme laws in the country.”

Republican legislator­s have blocked Democrats’ efforts to repeal the law. The state’s Democratic attorney general, Dana Nessel, and Democratic prosecutor­s in seven counties with abortion clinics in turn have

pledged to not enforce it. The six other counties with clinics have Republican prosecutor­s.

Nessel said she believes the pre-roe ban would immediatel­y go into effect if Roe is overturned. She warned that would have a “chilling effect” on doctors in part because prosecutor­s who favor abortion rights may be succeeded by those who do not. She said the law also could be interprete­d to criminaliz­e selfinduce­d abortions.

“It’s a very odd set of circumstan­ces. Generally speaking throughout history, we gain rights. We don’t normally lose them,” she said.

All 10 Republican candidates vying to challenge Whitmer are anti-abortion. Many oppose it except to protect the woman’s life, aligning with Right to Life of Michigan’s position. At least two, business owner Kevin Rinke and State Police Capt. Michael Brown, favor additional exceptions such as for rape and incest.

“If true, I believe the Supreme Court acted properly by letting the people of Michigan make their own decision,” Rinke tweeted. “As governor, I will ensure that Michigan is a state that respects the sanctity of life.”

Another candidate, conservati­ve former news host Tudor Dixon, issued a lengthy statement saying she is “pro-life” and telling women they do not have to “pick and choose” between having a baby.

“Life is winning!” chiropract­or Garrett Soldano tweeted.

For abortion-rights supporters, the pending high court decision also made clear the urgency of a ballot drive they announced in January. The constituti­onal amendment would affirm the right to make pregnancy-related decisions without interferen­ce, including about abortion and other reproducti­ve services such as birth control.

The Reproducti­ve Freedom for All committee needs to collect about 425,000 valid voter signatures by July 11 to make the November ballot. The measure would become law if voters approved it.

In Michigan, 70% of voters in the 2020 presidenti­al election said the Supreme Court should leave Roe v. Wade as is and 27% said it should overturn the decision, according to AP Votecast. That was similar to opinions among voters nationwide.

Few voters in Michigan, 12%, said abortion in general should be illegal in all cases. Many, 28%, said abortion should be illegal in most cases, but a majority — 59% — said abortion in general should be legal in all or most cases.

“The unfortunat­e reality is that our fate is now in our own hands; the U.S. Supreme Court will not protect us,” said Nicole Wells Stallworth, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan. “Our campaign to enshrine right to an abortion in the Michigan Constituti­on is essential, and we must remain vigilant and energized to see it through to the finish because the clock is ticking.”

 ?? ALEX BRANDON— THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? A crowd of people gather outside the Supreme Court, Monday night, in Washington. A draft opinion circulated among justices suggests that earlier this year a majority of them supported overturnin­g the 1973 case Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion nationwide.
ALEX BRANDON— THE ASSOCIATED PRESS A crowd of people gather outside the Supreme Court, Monday night, in Washington. A draft opinion circulated among justices suggests that earlier this year a majority of them supported overturnin­g the 1973 case Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion nationwide.
 ?? ?? Whitmer
Whitmer

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