Michigan Governor Repeals 1931 Abortion Law

Whitmer strikes unconstitutional abortion ban from the books
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 6, 2023 3:39 AM CDT
Michigan Governor Repeals 1931 Abortion Law
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer holds up signed legislation that repeals the 1931 abortion ban statute, Wednesday, April 5, 2023, in Birmingham, Mich.   (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

A near-century-old abortion ban that fueled one of the largest ballot drives in Michigan history was repealed Wednesday by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, just months after voters enshrined abortion rights in the state's constitution. "Today, we’re going to take action to make sure that our statutes and our laws reflect our values and our constitution," Whitmer said at a bill signing outside of Detroit. The 1931 abortion ban made it a four-year felony to assist in an abortion. Roe v. Wade had made the law null and void until the landmark decision was overturned in June last year by the US Supreme Court. Last month, the Michigan House and Senate—each with a two-seat Democratic majority—voted to send a repeal of the abortion ban to the governor. A majority of Republicans opposed the bill.

Courts blocked the ban from taking effect while a citizen-led initiative to enshrine abortion rights in the state’s constitution received more signatures than any other ballot proposal in state history to put the question before voters, the AP reports. Voters overwhelmingly approved the proposal in last November’s midterms, making the 1931 law unconstitutional and unenforceable. The 1931 ban could have been enforced in the future had voters collected enough signatures to once again amend the state constitution and repeal abortion rights. Whitmer's signature Wednesday eliminated that possibility, erasing the law completely.

"We cannot allow archaic laws to remain on our books under the assumption that they'll never be used again," said Democratic state Rep. Laurie Pohutsky. “We don't know what the future will hold and we don't know what plans abortion opponents have." (More abortion stories.)

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