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Michigan Legislature Passes Bill Repealing Parts of 1931 Anti-Abortion Law

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is expected to sign the bill into law later this month.

Pro-choice supporters gather outside the Michigan State Capitol during a "Restore Roe" rally in Lansing, Michigan, on September 7, 2022.

Both houses of the Michigan state legislature have passed a measure that repeals portions of a 1931 anti-abortion law that dealt with the use and distribution of abortion medication.

The broader parts of that law are now essentially moot due to voters in the state deciding last fall to pass a ballot initiative measure creating a state constitutional amendment recognizing the right for individuals to have an abortion, and to control their other reproductive rights, without interference from the state government.

The measure, which voters passed by a margin of 56.7 percent to 43.3 percent, states that individuals have the “right to make and effectuate decisions about all matters relating to pregnancy, including but not limited to prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, contraception, sterilization, abortion care, miscarriage management, and infertility care.”

But there still existed a possibility, albeit a small one, that portions of the 1931 anti-abortion law could remain in effect. The new bill that passed in the state legislature this month — first in the State House of Representatives last week, and in the State Senate on Wednesday — addresses possible confusion on whether portions of the 1931 law, regarding abortion medication, could still be enforced.

Section 750.14 of that law banned the administering of drugs that could result in a miscarriage (essentially abortion medication), while section 750.15 banned the sale or advertisement of such drugs.

The new bill is expected to be signed into law by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) later this month. When that happens, those sections of the 1931 law will be repealed.

Several states across the nation have enacted stricter laws on abortion or had trigger laws in place ready to restrict or ban abortion, following the federal Supreme Court overturning abortion rights protections that had been recognized in the 1973 ruling Roe v. Wade. Since that ruling, however, Michigan lawmakers and residents have won a series of legal challenges, passed laws, and passed the aforementioned ballot initiative, ensuring that a person’s reproductive care decisions — including whether to get an abortion or not — are theirs to make.

“As anti-choice extremists continue to chip away at abortion access, Michigan further cements itself as a beacon for reproductive freedom,” NARAL Pro-Choice president Mini Timmaraju said in a tweet reacting to the passage of the new bill.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) also praised the bill’s passage.

“Today’s repeal of this antiquated law is a victory for millions of Michigan residents who, like myself, value bodily integrity and personal freedom. … The people of this state can rest assured that their elected officials will not sit idly by in the wake of Roe v. Wade being overturned, and will fight to ensure that residents’ health, safety, and wellbeing is safeguarded from harmful legislation,” Nessel said.

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