Michigan judge grants injunction against 1931 abortion ban if Roe is overturned

By: - May 17, 2022 2:38 pm

Abortion rights protest in Ann Arbor, May 14, 2022 | Angela Demas

Updated, 3:50 p.m., 5/17/22, with comments from Planned Parenthood

A Court of Claims judge granted a preliminary injunction in a suit brought by Planned Parenthood against Michigan’s 1931 abortion ban law. 

Court of Claims Judge Elizabeth Gleicher ordered the injunction Tuesday, writing that “forced pregnancy … contravenes the right to make autonomous medical decisions.”

Planned Parenthood of Michigan filed a lawsuit last month to block enforcement of the state’s 1931 felony abortion ban, naming Attorney General Dana Nessel as the defendant. 

“This is a win for individuals, families, and communities. For those of us who provide abortions, it means we can continue to provide essential health care for our patients,” said Dr. Sarah Wallett, the plaintiff and chief medical officer at Planned Parenthood of Michigan. “Today’s ruling means all Michiganders will continue to be able to access the health care they deserve and to be able to decide for themselves their own futures.”

The lawsuit was filed just weeks before a leaked draft decision from the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade was made public. 

If Roe is overturned, the state would fall back on the 1931 law, which would make all abortions in Michigan a felony, unless to save the life of the pregnant woman.

“If a woman’s right to bodily integrity is to have any real meaning, it must incorporate her right to make decisions about the health events most likely to change the course of her life: pregnancy and childbirth,” Gleicher wrote. 

Nessel, a Democrat who has previously questioned the validity of the lawsuit and has stated multiple times that she would not enforce the ban, said she has “no plans to appeal and will comply with the order to provide notice to all state and local officials” under her supervision. 

On the same day Planned Parenthood filed their lawsuit, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also filed a lawsuit seeking to recognize the right to an abortion under the state constitution and to strike down the state’s 1931 abortion ban law.

“Today marks an important victory for Michiganders,” said Whitmer in a statement Tuesday. “The opinion from the Michigan Court of Claims is clear and sends the message that Michigan’s 1931 law banning abortion, even in cases of rape or incest, should not go into effect even if Roe is overturned. It will help ensure that Michigan remains a place where women have freedom and control over their own bodies.”

State Rep. Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia), chair of the Progressive Women’s Caucus, applauded the court’s temporary injunction, but says “the fight is far from over.”

“This is great news for the fundamental right of people to make the reproductive health care choices that are right for them, including abortions. Although it is a promising step, the fight is far from over,” said Pohutsky. “I look forward to the next step in the process where, hopefully, we will see this archaic law taken off the books.”


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Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue is a former Michigan Advance reporter who covered education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.