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Senate Democrats call for debate on abortion rights; GOP leader says not now

Michigan State Capitol building on a clear day
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Michigan Senate Democrats are calling for a debate on abortion rights over the objections of GOP leaders.

State Senate Democrats demanded floor time Thursday to chastise Republicans for refusing to allow a vote on any bill to reverse or amend Michigan’s dormant ban on abortion.

That 1931 ban could be restored if the US Supreme Court reverses the Roe v. Wade decision in a ruling expected any day now.

Democratic Senator Mallory McMorrow said Michigan is not ready to deal with the ramifications if the court reverses Roe.

“The message pending from our U.S. Supreme Court, should it fall, and our Republican majority colleagues couldn’t be clearer: If your birth control fails, you don’t matter. If you’re raped and you get pregnant, your hopes, dreams and aspirations do not matter. You don’t matter,” she said.

“You argue that these debates must happen in the Legislature. Well, then let’s have them.”

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey said Democrats are stoking passions before a decision has even been handed down.

“Abortion is a deeply personal and emotional issue. No one should or can deny that,” he said. “Those of us entrusted to public office can either stoke the emotion and fear associated with it or we can focus on healing.”

Some Republicans have proposed even more onerous abortion restrictions, but Governor Gretchen Whitmer has said any such bill would be vetoed.

She has also asked the Michigan Supreme Court for a ruling that, regardless of the 1931 law, the Michigan Constitution protects abortion rights.

In the meantime, a Michigan Court of Claims order would temporarily halt enforcement of the state’s abortion ban while the legal issues are sorted out. That order is being challenged.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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