The march to reverse Roe v. Wade: Michigan anti-abortion group, 5 GOP congressmen file briefs

By: - January 10, 2020 11:01 am

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Right to Life of Michigan, the state’s foremost anti-abortion organization, has filed to a brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. On the same day, several Michigan GOP lawmakers signed a similar brief in support of a court case that could bring the country closer to that reality.

The anti-abortion group filed on Jan. 2 the amicus curiae brief, which argues that the landmark 1972 decision should be revisited and overturned. If that does not happen, the brief asks for a controversial Louisiana abortion law at the center of another U.S. Supreme Court case to be upheld.

“Michigan voters overwhelmingly chose to keep our state’s abortion ban in November 1972. Just weeks later, the U.S. Supreme Court blatantly overstepped its bounds by inventing a right to abortion through all nine months of pregnancy in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton,” said Barbara Listing, president of Right to Life of Michigan, in an emailed statement announcing the brief filing.

The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the Louisiana case, June Medical Services LLC v. Gee, on March 4. The law requires abortion providers to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital. In 2016, an identical law in Texas was struck down by the court – but with the Court’s conservative majority, there is a possibility that they could undo their own precedent set just four years ago.

In December, Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel signed an amicus brief that joined Michigan with 20 other states asking the court to strike down the Louisiana law.

Last spring, Nessel said that she expects Roe v. Wade to be overturned, but vowed to not prosecute women for having abortions if the act becomes criminalized.

Right to Life of Michigan’s effort comes amidst a wave of aggressive anti-abortion legislation pushed by Republicans in Michigan and beyond over the last year. Over the course of 2019, 25 states adopted laws restricting abortion access as part of an effort to undermine and ultimately overturn Roe v. Wade.

In May 2019, Michigan’s GOP lawmakers joined many of their counterparts across the country by passing “abortion ban” bills along party lines in the state House and Senate. The legislation would prohibit dilation and evacuation abortion, which anti-abortion advocates refer to with the political term “dismemberment abortion.”

Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a vocal proponent of reproductive rights, has made it clear that the bills will be vetoed if they made it to her desk. None of the four bills have moved from committees since the votes in May.

But Right to Life of Michigan was ready with another strategy to work around the pro-choice governor. In June, they began collecting signatures for a petition that would allow the GOP Legislature to ban dilation and evacuation abortions without Whitmer’s approval. The group on Dec. 23 said it collected the more than 340,000 signatures needed are is currently awaiting approval by the Board of Elections.

Right to Life of Michigan has strong, longtime ties to GOP politics in the state. In August, the Right to Life of Michigan political action committee (PAC) made early 2020 endorsements for President Donald Trump and Republican candidate John James, who is seeking to unseat incumbent U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.).

A separate amicus brief in support of upholding the Louisiana law and reconsidering Roe v. Wade was signed on Jan. 2 by more than 200 members of Congress. 

All but one of Michigan’s GOP Congress members are listed as signees: U.S. Reps. Tim Walberg (R-Tipton), Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet), Bill Huizenga (R-Zeeland), John Moolenaar (R-Midland) and Paul Mitchell (R-Dryden). U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) is not listed as a signee.

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Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins

Laina G. Stebbins covers the environment, Native issues and criminal justice for the Advance. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service. When Laina is not writing or spending time with her cats, she loves art and design, listening to music, playing piano, enjoying good food and being out in nature (especially Up North).