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Michigan Senate advances repeal of 1931 abortion ban — though the ban is already unenforceable

a white sign with black text that says "abortion impacts everyone"
Jodi Westrick
Michigan Radio
File photo from a May 2022 gathering at University of Michigan's Ann Arbor campus.

The Michigan House Judiciary Committee sent a repeal of the state’s 1931 abortion ban to the House floor Wednesday.

The law is now unenforceable due to a state constitutional amendment passed last year that guarantees abortion rights. But advocates say it should still come off the books.

“It’s terrifying to know that a nearly century-old ban remains on Michigan’s law books threatening to label me a felon," Planned Parenthood Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sarah Wallett said. "I should not have to fear being arrested, separated from my family, stripped of my medical license and barred from practicing medicine simply for providing the care my patients depend on.”

Opponents of the repeal argued the state should do more to provide options to pregnant people aside from abortion.

Rebecca Mastee is with the Michigan Catholic Conference. She spoke against the repeal during Wednesday's committee hearing. She said there should be more alternatives to abortion.

"To those who say some women need abortion to be available, especially women with fewer economic resources or opportunities, I ask what if they were supported? What if society focused on providing her and her family with health care, adequate resources, education and employment opportunities?" Mastee questioned.

ACLU Legislative Director Merissa Kovach said the ban still needs to go, even if it’s no longer enforceable.

"These extreme and archaic laws now most clearly stand in direct contradiction to our constitution and they should be repealed," Kovach said. "As we know all too well, there is a danger in allowing unconstitutional laws, especially laws that threaten the health and safety of Michiganders to remain on our books."

House leadership says it plans to move the legislation forward soon.

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