Judge Suspends Michigan’s Abortion Ban, Says Likely Unconstitutional

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.
May 17, 2022 Updated: May 17, 2022

A Michigan judge on May 17 suspended Michigan’s abortion ban, ruling it is likely unconstitutional.

The ban is not in effect but could soon be if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

According to a leaked draft opinion, the nation’s top court is poised to do just that by the end of its current term. If a majority of justices overturns Roe, it would be up to each state could restrict abortion.

Michigan’s 1931 ban violates rights to privacy, bodily integrity, and liberty, Planned Parenthood of Michigan and Dr. Sarah Wallett, an abortion provider, said in a lawsuit in April after the draft was leaked.

Court of Claims Judge Elizabeth Gleicher agreed, writing in the new ruling that the state Constitution protects people’s ability to refuse and obtain medical treatments, including abortion.

“From a constitutional standpoint, the right to obtain a safe medical treatment is indistinguishable from the right of a patient to refuse treatment,” Gleicher said in the 27-page decision.

The law in question, MCL 750.14, bans all abortions except to save the life of the woman carrying the child, and makes those who perform abortions guilty of a felony.

Gleicher, a donor to Planned Parenthood, entered a preliminary injunction, which blocks enforcement of the law until the merits of the case are decided.

All other laws dealing with abortion would still go into effect if Roe is overturned.

Wallett, who is the chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood’s Michigan branch, called the ruling “a win for individuals, families, and communities.”

“For those of us who provide abortions, it means we can continue to provide essential health care for our patients,” she said.

Eight other states also have abortion bans from before Roe that would go into effect if it were overturned, including Alabama, Mississippi, and Oklahoma, according to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute. Another 13 states have near or total bans that were passed after Roe.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat who had said she would not have enforced the law, also hailed the ruling.

“The judge acted quickly in the interest of bodily integrity and personal freedom to preserve this important right and found a likelihood of success in the state law being found unconstitutional. I have no plans to appeal and will comply with the order to provide notice to all state and local officials under my supervision,” she said in a statement.

Matthew DePerno, the Republican pick to challenge Nessel in the upcoming election, did not return a request for comment.

John Bursch, senior counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, which counts Michigan Right to Life among its clients, said the ruling was egregious for many reasons.

“Because the defendant, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, was not defending the law, the judge had no jurisdiction to rule in this case at all. What’s more, the Michigan Court of Appeals previously held that the same pro-life law is valid under Michigan’s Constitution—in a case where Planned Parenthood was represented by the same judge who issued today’s ruling,” Bursch told The Epoch Times via email.

“Michigan citizens are entitled to neutral decision makers, and government officials have a duty to uphold the law and protect their citizens, including unborn children. Right to Life of Michigan and the Michigan Catholic Conference are considering their next steps.”

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.