Advance Notice: Briefs

Study: Michigan could see the 3rd highest maternal death rate if abortion is banned

By: - November 3, 2022 12:40 pm

Protestors march in support of abortion rights following a Women’s Wave rally in Lansing on Oct. 8, 2022. (Andrew Roth | Michigan Advance)

Michigan has the third-highest expected increase in maternal deaths in the nation if the state’s 1931 abortion ban goes into effect, according to a report released Wednesday from the liberal group the Center for American Progress (CAP).

Held off by preliminary injunctions amid a flurry of legal action, Michigan’s 91-year-old law criminalizing abortion hasn’t gone into effect since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June. The law carries a four-year felony penalty. 

Former President Barack Obama speaks at a rally with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and other Michigan Democrats in Detroit on Oct. 29, 2022. (Andrew Roth/Michigan Advance)

This report underscores the horrifying reality that a staggering number of Michigan women will die if our state’s 1931 abortion ban goes into effect,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement. “Simply put: the ban will kill moms and women who become pregnant. Access to reproductive health care saves lives. That’s why I have been fighting like hell to ensure that every Michigander has control over their own body and can start a family if and when they are ready.”

Voters will decide on Tuesday whether to enshrine reproductive rights in the Michigan Constitution with Proposal 3. That would supersede the 1931 law.

If Proposal 3 does not pass, and the courts remove the injunction on the 1931 law, researchers have found that Michigan’s maternal mortality rate could increase by 25%. Florida’s and Georgia’s maternal mortality rates could increase by 29% with abortion bans, which would be the highest in the nation. 

If abortion is banned nationwide, the overall number of maternal deaths is expected to rise by 24%. 

That number is significantly higher for Black women, whose maternal deaths would rise by 39%.

The Advance asked for comment on the study’s findings from GOP gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon, Republican Attorney General nominee Matt DePerno and Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel, but none of them responded to the request. 

DePerno and Dixon have both said they support the 1931 abortion ban and would enforce it. Nessel doesn’t support the law and vowed to not enforce it both before and after she was named the defendant in a Planned Parenthood of Michigan (PPMI) lawsuit filed in April. The same day as the PPMI lawsuit, Whitmer filed a lawsuit of her own aimed at repealing the state’s abortion ban.

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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.