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Report: GOP-led Legislature spends more than $180K defending Michigan’s 1931 abortion ban

By: - September 28, 2022 12:50 pm

The Michigan State Capitol in Lansing. | Anna Gustafson photo

More than $180,000 of taxpayer money has been used for legal services to defend Michigan’s 1931 abortion ban.

That’s according to the liberal advocacy group Progress Michigan, which submitted financial disclosure requests to the Michigan House and Senate Business Offices to determine what public resources are being spent by the Republican-controlled legislature to try and uphold the law in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, which eliminated a nationwide right to abortion access and left it up to each individual state.

“Republicans have continued to spend taxpayer money pushing their extremist anti-abortion agenda and defending a law that rips reproductive freedom away from Michiganders,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “Our elected Republican lawmakers should be supporting the people of Michigan, who time and again have said they want to control their own reproductive health choices.” 

While the 1931 law criminalizing abortion was ruled unenforceable earlier this month by a Michigan Court of Claims judge, the ruling is expected to be appealed.

Progress Michigan said that responses from the House Business Office and the Senate Business Office show that a total of $180,821.50 of taxpayer money was paid to Schaerr Jaffee LLP, a Washington, D.C., firm; Kienbaum Hardy Viviano Pelton & Forest PLC, based in Michigan; and to the Michigan Court of Appeals.

Because the Legislature is not subject to Freedom of Information Act requests, Progress Michigan says the responses were “very limited in scope.”

Michigan voters will decide on Nov. 8 a ballot measure on abortion rights. Proposal 3 would enshrine reproductive rights in the Michigan Constitution.

Polling released by the group two weeks ago indicated 61% of Michiganders support keeping abortion legal in Michigan while polling in August showed 63% of Michigan voters support repealing the 1931 law and allowing abortion protections to remain in place. It also indicated that 80%  believe whether or not to get an abortion is a decision that should be made between a doctor and a patient. 

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Jon King
Jon King

Jon King has been a journalist for more than 35 years. He is the Past President of the Michigan Associated Press Media Editors Association and has been recognized for excellence numerous times, most recently in 2021 with the Best Investigative Story by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Cleary University. Jon and his family live in Howell, where he also serves on the Board of Directors for the Livingston Diversity Council.