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Michigan Judge Calls 91-Year-Old State Abortion Ban Unenforceable

A Michigan judge ruled that the state may not enforce a dormant 91-year-old state law banning most abortions if the U.S. Supreme Court no longer recognizes a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy.

The ruling by the chief judge on Michigan’s Court of Claims, Elizabeth Gleicher, held that abortion is a fundamental right under the state’s own constitution, reports the Wall Street Journal. “After 50 years of legal abortion in Michigan, there can be no doubt but that the right of personal autonomy and bodily integrity enjoyed by our citizens includes the right of a woman, in consultation with her physician, to terminate a pregnancy,” the judge wrote, granting a preliminary injunction sought by Planned Parenthood of Michigan and a local abortion provider. Michigan is one of eight states, including Arizona, West Virginia and Wisconsin, that have abortion bans that predate Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that first made abortion legal nationwide. The lawsuit comes as states are bracing for a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court on abortion rights. The high court is considering whether to allow a Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, roughly two months earlier than current Supreme Court precedent allows. A leaked draft opinion indicated that the Supreme Court could overturn Roe, potentially allowing states to ban abortion throughout pregnancy. Abortion bans such as Michigan’s have been unenforceable for the past five decades. If the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe, there are concerns that currently dormant bans could become broadly enforceable again. The 1931 Michigan law makes providing an abortion at any point during pregnancy a felony that can potentially result in four years in prison. In 1973, the Michigan Supreme Court interpreted the statute to be unenforceable to the extent it conflicts with Roe.

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