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State lawmakers clash over abortion before summer recess

The Michigan State Capitol Dome as seen from looking up
Bimatshu Pyakuryal

In a late night session of the state Legislature, Democrats tried to force votes to permanently repeal Michigan’s statutory abortion ban while Republicans said they’ll defend it in court.

The recent reversal of Roe v. Wade hung over the session as it ran into the early morning Friday. House Democrats’ efforts to get a roll call vote on the repeal of the 1931 law went down in defeat. While abortion does remain legal in Michigan under a judge’s order, Democratic Rep. Laurie Pohutsky said that could change.

“So right now, we have a temporary injunction in place that is blocking enforcement of the 1931 law, but it is just that,” she said. “It is temporary. It is not an actual solution.”

Republican Rep. Thomas Albert chairs the House Appropriations Committee. He said the House GOP majority had no interest in repealing that law.

“The Legislature also stands ready to defend our state laws because while the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision is cause for celebration, it is only the beginning of our fight to defend life in Michigan,” he said.

Republican leaders are opposing a request by Governor Gretchen Whitmer to the Michigan Supreme Court. She wants the court to declare abortion rights are protected by the Michigan Constitution.

Some Republican county prosecutors also say they’re not bound by the Court of Claims order, but no abortion providers have been charged with violating the ban yet.

There is also a petition campaign underway to put a question on the ballot to enshrine to reproductive rights in the Michigan Constitution. If adopted, that amendment would supersede the statutory ban.

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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