Advance Notice: Briefs

More than 500 doctors sign on in support of Whitmer’s challenge to Michigan’s 1931 abortion ban

By: - September 23, 2022 11:04 am

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at the Mackinac Policy Conference, June 1, 2022 | Laina G. Stebbins

Hundreds of doctors across the state on Thursday announced their support for Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s lawsuit challenging the state’s 1931 abortion ban.

Backed by more than 500 doctors, the Committee to Protect Health Care filed a brief supporting Whitmer’s lawsuit, which asks the Michigan Supreme Court to determine if the state Constitution protects the right to abortion. 

While the 1931 law criminalizing abortion was ruled unconstitutional and unenforceable by a Michigan Court of Claims judge in early September, the ruling will likely be appealed.

According to the committee, a ruling from the Supreme Court protecting abortion would provide certainty for women and doctors in the state. 

“When serious medical complications come up in pregnancy, doctors need to be able to act quickly, with the full range of treatment options, to protect the woman’s health and life,” Rossana DeGrood, an OB-GYN in Ann Arbor said in a statement. 

“Michigan’s 1931 ban purports to permit abortions necessary to save a woman’s life, but this exception is too vague, and could prevent doctors from providing life-saving care for fear of prosecution,” DeGrood said.

Whitmer brought the suit in April. She is up for reelection on Nov. 8 and faces Republican Tudor Dixon, who support the 1931 abortion law.

Michigan voters will also decide on Proposal 3, which would enshrine the right to abortion and reproductive health care in the Michigan Constitution.

In its brief, the committee argues abortion is a safe, standard and essential health care procedure, and that the 1931 abortion law would significantly harm patients’ physical and mental health and safety. 

“Michigan physicians are uniquely positioned to advocate for the safety and standards of care for our patients. We’re ethically obligated to put our opposition to the reinstatement of Michigan’s dangerous 1931 abortion ban before the Michigan Supreme Court,” Dr. Rob Davidson, executive director of the Committee to Protect Health Care said in a statement.

“Medical decisions for Michigan patients should be made solely by patients in consultation with physicians. The government has no place in the exam room between a physician and patient,” Davidson said.

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Kyle Davidson
Kyle Davidson

Kyle Davidson was a reporting intern for the Michigan Advance. A recent MSU graduate, Kyle studied journalism and political science. He has reported on community events, breaking news, state policy, and the environment for outlets including the Lansing State Journal, the Detroit Free Press and Capital News Service.