The historic reversal of the Roe v. Wade decision results in the US now having zero federal protections for, or constitutional rights to, an abortion. This ruling now allows individual states to outlaw or protect abortion rights.
As the aftermaths of the overturn ripple across the nation, people are left to relearn what abortion accessibility looks like in their state. Michigan is left in a unique position, as recent lawsuits have changed the state’s fate following the overturn.
Here’s everything you need to know regarding the current legality of and access to abortion in Michigan.
Michigan’s 1931 Abortion Ban
Michigan’s abortion law, previously made dormant by the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, is one of the strictest in the country. Under this law, both performing or receiving an abortion is punishable by felony and up to four years in prison.
The law doesn’t make exceptions for those that are impregnated by cases of rape or incest. It does grant exceptions in order to “preserve the life” of the pregnant person, a phrase that some healthcare professionals deem vague. Healthcare systems have been calling on the Michigan courts to clarify this phrase.
Michigan’s ban would have gone into effect following the reversal of Roe v. Wade, but recent legal action has stalled this.
Recent Injunction Temporarily Keeps Abortion Legal
Anticipating the overturn of Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood of Michigan and Planned Parenthood Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sarah Wallet filed a lawsuit in April with the goal of blocking the enforcement of Michigan’s abortion ban. The suit is on the basis that the 1931 law is “unconstitutionally vague and violates the rights to liberty, bodily integrity, equal protection, and privacy under the Michigan Constitution and state civil rights laws.”
The Michigan Court of Claims recently granted a preliminary injunction in the suit, which suspends the enforcement of the ban until a decision is reached in the lawsuit.
This injunction means that abortion is still legal in Michigan, but this is subject to change.
In a press conference on Friday, June 24, Wallet emphasized that Planned Parenthood’s doors are still open and abortion is still legal in Michigan.
“Here in Michigan, I’m working with our team of expert doctors, nurses and health care professionals to ensure we can provide care to as many patients as possible,” Wallet said. “We are not going anywhere and we won’t stop fighting to protect access.”
What To Expect
The future of abortion rights in Michigan is still uncertain. The 1931 law could be repealed through several different methods of action.
The Michigan Supreme Court could strike down the law, as Governor Gretchen Whitmer asked them to in April. A petition could potentially place a reproductive rights amendment proposal on the November ballot. The proposed ballot initiative which was put together by the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan and Michigan Voices would guarantee abortion rights. Planned Parenthood of Michigan’s lawsuit could also result in the protection of abortion rights in Michigan.
If the ban becomes effective, Attorney General Dana Nessel said she would not enforce it. Several county prosecutors have supported this notion and vowed to not enforce it, either. However, Nessel is up for reelection in November, and this could change the future of abortion cases being brought forth.
Current Planned Parenthood of Michigan Reproductive Health Resources
As abortion has now become illegal in other states, Planned Parenthood of Michigan, or PPMI, has begun preparing for an increase in patients. They expect to see patients from neighboring states seeking access to care that is not offered in their state any longer.
“Planned Parenthood has been staffing up to increase our staff capacity,” Director of Communications Ashlea Phenicie said. “Both to provide health care, but also to answer an influx of calls and patients seeking additional information.”
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Phenicie urges out-of-state patients to reach out to PPMI’s call center, where staff can connect them with care, provide guidance on legal restrictions, travel information or financial aid.
Phenicie said that PPMI has hired “abortion patient navigators.”
“These navigators will help patients to connect with care, figure out travel arrangements, connect them to financial aid, those types of things,” Phenicie said. “We are asking our supporters and donors to support us in this time and make sure that we can expand our capacity and serve as many patients as possible.”
Abortion is still legal in Michigan and will be for the “foreseeable future,” Phenicie said.
Michigan State University Reproductive Health Resources
In response to the overturn of Roe v. Wade, President Stanley called the ruling one that “jeopardizes many people’s health.” Currently, reproductive care rights in Michigan have not changed, so there are not yet any changes to the university’s care and resources.
“We’ve also been meeting with a group of deans and vice presidents to examine how the Supreme Court’s decision will impact our university,” President Stanley said in a statement. “The group has and will continue to focus on maintaining the strength and integrity of MSU’s health and medical education curriculums, the health and medical services we provide, and our health benefits for employees, within the confines of the law.”
Reproductive health resources at MSU are offered through Olin Health Center, MSU's student health service. The Gynecology Clinic at Olin Health Center offers contraceptive counseling, birth control and emergency contraceptives, HIV testing, STI screenings, pregnancy testing and more. Call the clinic at (517) 353-4660 for information and questions regarding women's health services.
The MSU Health Promotion Department also offers sexual wellness resources, for both on-campus and off-campus students. The department is located in Room 345 of the Student Services Building.
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