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Michigan Becomes First State to Repeal Abortion Ban Post-“Roe”

The bill comes after voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure protecting abortion access in the state last year.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer poses for a photo after speaking at a press conference in Romulus, Michigan, on February 13, 2023.

On Wednesday, Michigan became the first state to formally repeal an abortion ban after the fall of Roe v. Wade.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed a bill on Wednesday afternoon that the state legislature passed last month, repealing crucial parts of a nearly century-old abortion ban in the state.

The bill revokes the section of a 1931 abortion law that makes it a felony in nearly all cases to administer drugs that would induce a miscarriage. This was the only section of the ban left that could have been used to restrict abortions after Michigan voters passed a ballot measure last year to protect abortion rights by a wide margin.

In remarks preceding the bill signing, Whitmer struck a triumphant tone. “We know that this fight continues. But I also know this. After the last year that I have lived through, I can tell you: We are going to win this fight,” she said. “So, who would like to watch me slay a zombie?”

Because it was unclear whether or not the portion of the law that is now repealed was still enforceable, Democrats — who control both chambers of the state legislature and the governor’s office — opted to get rid of that possibility. A Michigan state judge had already suspended the ban’s enforcement last year after ruling that it was unconstitutional.

Abortion advocates have celebrated the repeal.

“Today is a testament to the power of our voices and the strength of our votes, proving progress is possible when we elect those who champion our freedoms,” said NARAL Pro-Choice America President Mini Timmaraju in a statement. “NARAL Pro-Choice America and our 125,500 Michigan members thank Governor Gretchen Whitmer for her unwavering commitment to reproductive freedom. Today is a crucial step in the fight for freedom and abortion access for Michiganders today, tomorrow, and for generations to come.”

Some states have passed bills affirming the right to an abortion in recent months, while others have had their bans suspended by courts. But Michigan is the first state to repeal an abortion ban since the extremist Supreme Court handed down its Dobbs v. Jackson decision — a move that only became possible after state Democrats scored their first trifecta in decades in November. Democrats in other states have fought to repeal bans, but have been blocked by Republicans.

The repeal comes as abortion access in other states appears to grow more restricted by the month. So far, 13 states have complete or near-complete bans on the procedure, while five states have otherwise restrictive bans. Nine other states have had their bans blocked by judges, but Republicans are still waging efforts to skirt those rulings. If Republicans in Ohio and Indiana were able to have their bans reinstated, Michigan would become an island for abortion rights, totally cut off from other states where the procedure is legal.

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