Judge Halts State Abortion Ban In Victory For Planned Parenthood

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Michigan Judge Elizabeth Gleicher has issued a preliminary injunction blocking the enforcement of an abortion ban in the state that was originally implemented before the U.S. Supreme Court protected the procedure with its Roe v. Wade ruling. Although the ban hasn’t been in force for decades, it threatened to become legally active once again if the Supreme Court overturns its Roe ruling.

A recently leaked draft majority opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court indicated the Justices might be preparing to undertake that move, no matter the potentially dangerous health consequences for millions of Americans. Eliminating the federal protections established by the Roe ruling would mean that access to abortion would suddenly become dependent on a patchwork of state measures restricting or allowing the procedure.

Planned Parenthood, the multi-faceted healthcare organization that also prominently deals with abortion, helped bring litigation in which Gleicher ruled. “Planned Parenthood’s complaint preserves a privacy claim and also avers that the statute is unconstitutional because it violate the rights to liberty… bodily integrity, and equal protection guaranteed by the Michigan Constitution and the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act and is unconstitutionally vague,” Gleicher summarized. The original ban, from 1931, makes providing most abortions a felony with no exceptions for situations involving rape or incest, although there’s an exception for saving a pregnant individual’s life. That’s similar to how Florida Republicans put together a 15-week abortion ban recently imposed in their state in the apparent hope that the Supreme Court goes through with allowing further restrictions on abortion — although the Florida law also includes an exception for preventing serious injury to the pregnant person.

“The court finds a strong likelihood that the plaintiffs will prevail on the merits of their constitutional challenge… A preliminary injunction furthers the public interest, allowing the court to make a full ruling on the merits of the case without subjecting the plaintiffs and their patients to the impact of a total ban on abortion services in this state,” the judge in this case explained. There are other states with harsh restrictions on abortion that would go into effect if the Roe decision is undone — besides Michigan, eight states have pre-Roe abortion bans on the books, and more than a dozen (including several from that group of eight) have passed measures that would automatically ban most abortions if Roe is overturned.

Gleicher’s conclusions would protect Michigan residents if the Supreme Court decides to go with the draft majority opinion or something like it. Michigan Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer filed a separate lawsuit targeting the nearly century-old abortion ban that’s technically still on the books, and after Gleicher reached her present conclusions, Whitmer said the “opinion from the Michigan Court of Claims is clear and sends the message that Michigan’s 1931 law banning abortion, even in cases of rape or incest, should not go into effect even if Roe is overturned… It will help ensure that Michigan remains a place where women have freedom and control over their own bodies.” Planned Parenthood, meanwhile, indicated they intend to continue with their litigation until the ban is permanently blocked.