Advance Notice: Briefs

House GOP budget plan includes $750K that could go to defending Michigan’s 1931 abortion ban

By: - April 27, 2022 3:20 pm

Hundreds rally at the state Capitol for the MI Body MI Choice event on Oct. 2, 2021 | Allison R. Donahue

A House Appropriations subcommittee approved a bill Tuesday that would allocate state funds to “enhance election integrity” and to help the Legislature defend a 1931 state law that makes abortion a felony. 

Rep. Greg VanWoerkom (R-Norton Shores), the House Appropriations General Government Subcommittee chair, is the sponsor of House Bill 5783.  The 2023 Fiscal Year General Government budget now advances to the full House Appropriations Committee. Michigan’s new budget year starts Oct. 1.

The bill includes creating a $10 million fund to replace outdated election equipment and another $10 million investment to train election staff and update voter rolls. 

The Republican plan also includes funds to conduct a study to review Michigan’s election audit system compared to other states.

Since the 2020 election, many Republicans, both in Michigan and nationwide, have spread disproven conspiracies that former President Donald Trump won, even though he lost to President Joe Biden — and by more than 154,000 votes in Michigan.

Across Michigan, more than 250 state and local audits have confirmed the accuracy and integrity of Michigan’s election, and none have revealed any evidence of widespread voter fraud. A 2021 Senate Oversight Committee report also found no evidence of voter fraud.

“These are all necessary steps to give citizens confidence in elections moving forward,” VanWoerkom said in a statement Tuesday. 

The budget plan also includes $750,000 for the Legislature to “defend the constitutionality of state laws.”

VanWoerkom said this “may become necessary if Attorney General Dana Nessel follows through on her pledge to not enforce a Michigan law banning abortion if a U.S. Supreme Court ruling affects Roe v. Wade.”

The future of the 1973 landmark decision, which declared abortion to be a constitutional right, is uncertain right now as the country waits for the Supreme Court to make a decision on another abortion case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

If Roe is overturned, Michigan would fall back on a 1931 law that bans abortions in the state under all circumstances except to protect the life of the mother. 

Nessel has vowed she won’t defend the state’s 1931 law. She also faces a Planned Parenthood lawsuit that seeks an immediate court order barring the attorney general from doing so.

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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.