On Wednesday, Judge Elizabeth Gleicher of Michigan’s Court of Claims declared the nearly 100-old law unconstitutional.
The law made it a crime to perform abortions except when the mother’s life is in danger.
Gleicher ruled the law will “endanger the health and lives of women,” violating both their bodily integrity and right to equal protection as protected under the Michigan Constitution, which she said can be interpreted more broadly than the federal Constitution.
“Manifestly, criminalizing abortion will eliminate access to a mainstay healthcare service,” Gleicher wrote in her opinion. “For 50 years, Michiganders have freely exercised the right to safely control their health and their reproductive destinies by deciding when and whether to carry a pregnancy to term. Eliminating abortion access will force pregnant women to forgo control of the integrity of their own bodies, regardless of the effect on their health and lives.”
The judge also said that the promotion of public health is of “peculiar state interest” and that the abortion ban also prevents women from thriving as parents of “wanted children.”
“The statute not only compels motherhood and its attendant responsibilities, it wipes away the mother’s ability to make the plans she considers most beneficial for the future of her existing or desired children. Despite that men play necessary role in the procreative process, the law deprives only women of their ability to thrive as contributing participants in world outside the home and as parents of wanted children,” Gleicher wrote.
The 1931 law had been suspended since the spring. Before then, it was dormant under Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court case that was overturned in June.
The judge intended in her opinion to permanently block the law, but opponents are expected to appeal the ruling with a higher court that has previously disagreed with this judge’s decisions.
Meanwhile, the Michigan Supreme Court is weighing whether to put a proposed amendment on the ballot this fall that would enshrine abortion access in Michigan’s Constitution.
The petition to get the amendment on the ballot has over 700,000 signatures, but some Republicans on the State Board of Canvassers say the text of the amendment contains errors, such as spaces between words.
A total of 14 states now have stringent bans on abortion in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Total or near-total abortion bans are in effect in Texas, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Idaho, Arkansas, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Missouri, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, and Kentucky.
Ohio and Georgia have six-week bans in effect. Florida, Utah, and North Carolina have bans on abortions later in the pregnancy, and Indiana’s 22-week ban goes into effect later this month.
The original lawsuit precipitating Wednesday’s ruling was filed earlier this year by Planned Parenthood of Michigan against Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.
Critics have skewered Gleicher for refusing to give up the case despite her decades-old connection to Planned Parenthood.
After taking the case, Gleicher disclosed that she donates yearly to Planned Parenthood’s Michigan affiliate. As a lawyer, she also repeatedly represented the abortion giant as far back as the 1990s, and she has also received a Planned Parenthood “advocate award.”