Advance Notice: Briefs

Panel greenlights Michigan Civil Rights Dept. getting involved in abortion lawsuits

By: - July 28, 2022 2:46 pm

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

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission (MCRC) passed a resolution Monday supporting reproductive rights and authorizing the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR) to address discrimination against individuals looking to get abortions or other reproductive health care. 

The resolution also called on the Department to support Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and other elected officials in protecting abortion access in the state.

“The Commission believes that it is essential, in light of the US Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, to do what we can to protect the fundamental rights of the Michiganders who this ruling will impact,” said Commission Chair Portia Roberson in a statement Thursday. 

Roberson is running as a Democrat for the U.S. House in Michigan’s 13th Congressional District and the primary election is Tuesday. Other candidates are state Sen. Adam Hollier (D-Detroit), John Conyers III, former state Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, Michael Griffie, Sharon McPhail, Sam Riddle, Lorrie Lutredge and state Rep. Shri Thanedar (D-Detroit). 

Whitmer filed a lawsuit in the state Supreme Court in April to make the state’s 1931 abortion ban unenforceable and enshrine the right to an abortion in the Michigan Constitution. 

The commission authorized the MDCR to provide an amicus curie brief to support and assist efforts by any party to protect equal access to reproductive health care in the state of Michigan.

After Roe v. Wade was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court last month, abortion is still legal in Michigan, despite the 1931 law still on the books. That ban is currently unenforceable after a Court of Claims judge ordered an injunction in the Planned Parenthood of Michigan lawsuit, which is seeking to make the abortion ban permanently unenforceable.

The commission’s resolution declares that the right to privacy and bodily integrity is a fundamental right of all people, and that national and international organizations, including the World Health Organization, recognize reproductive rights as a fundamental human right.

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Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue covers 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.