Michigan House of Representatives Votes to Repeal State’s 1931 Abortion Ban

On Thursday, the Michigan House of Representatives voted to repeal the state’s 1931 ban on abortion, which has been on the books since the 1840s and was last updated in 1931.[0] The House voted 50-38 to remove the laws from Michigan’s books, with two Republican lawmakers, state Reps. Thomas Kuhn, R-Troy, and Donni Steele, R-Orion Twp.[1], joining Democrats in voting in favor of the repeal.[1] The vote comes after the passage of Proposal 3, which enshrined the right to an abortion in the Michigan constitution.[2]

The ban had been largely dormant for the nearly 50 years Roe v. Wade cemented abortion rights across the country through the U.S. Constitution, but was poised to take effect with the U.S. Supreme Court's overturning of Roe in June.[1] In an attempt to regulate abortion and address open questions about Michigan abortion law after Proposal 3, Republicans proposed various amendments during the floor session to connect the bill to other legislation. These amendments sought to enforce statutes that require parental consent or a court order for a minor to receive an abortion.[3] The proposals were rejected by the Democrats.[4]

The bills were passed 20-18, along party lines in the Democratic-controlled Senate and were sent to Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for her signature.[5] Sen. Erika Geiss (D – Taylor) is sponsoring Senate Bill 2 to repeal the 1931 law.[6] The committee voted 6-4 on each of the five Senate bills, with Democrats in favor and Republicans against.[6]

HB 4006 annuls the 1931 prohibition on abortion.[7] The Code of Criminal Procedure has been amended so that the reference to the ban has been removed, due to HB 4032.[8] As recently as 2019, court rulings that followed Roe v. Wade have permitted prosecutions under the 1931 legislation.[7]

Democrats argued the repeal reflects the will of the majority of voters who supported enshrining abortion rights in Michigan's constitution last fall. “As legislators, one of our most critical imperatives is following the will of the voters. The people of Michigan spoke loud and clear with the approval of Proposal 3 that they want reproductive freedom,” said Speaker Pro Tem Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia), chair of the Progressive Women’s Caucus and sponsor of HB 4006.[9]

However, some Republicans argued that the 1931 law is the only statute available to prohibit late-term or forced abortions.[4]

0. “Michigan House sends abortion ban repeal legislation to Senate” WVPE Public Media, 3 Mar. 2023, https://www.wvpe.org/wvpe-news/2023-03-03/michigan-house-sends-abortion-ban-repeal-legislation-to-senate

1. “House repeals still-on-books abortion ban after Prop 3 passage” Detroit Free Press, 2 Mar. 2023, https://www.freep.com/story/news/politics/2023/03/02/house-repeals-abortion-ban-after-prop-3-passage/69962571007/

2. “Michigan Republicans push to amend state constitution to restrict abortion – State of Reform” State of Reform, 2 Mar. 2023, https://stateofreform.com/featured/2023/03/michigan-republicans-push-to-amend-state-constitution-to-restrict-abortion

3. “Nesbitt promises continued fight to protect women, babies against extreme abortion activists” Michigan Senate Republicans, 8 Mar. 2023, https://www.misenategop.com/nesbitt-promises-continued-fight-to-protect-women-babies-against-extreme-abortion-activists/

4. “Michigan House votes to repeal 1931 abortion ban” Bridge Michigan, 2 Mar. 2023, https://www.bridgemi.com/michigan-health-watch/michigan-house-votes-repeal-1931-abortion-ban

5. “Michigan Senate votes to repeal 1931 abortion ban | National Politics” News8000.com – WKBT, 9 Mar. 2023, https://www.news8000.com/news/politics/national-politics/michigan-senate-votes-to-repeal-1931-abortion-ban/article_cf7ea712-f0ba-5126-8304-5bce60e70f81.html

6. “Bills wiping traces of 1931 abortion ban move through committees ⋆ Michigan Advance” Michigan Advance, 1 Mar. 2023, https://michiganadvance.com/2023/03/01/bills-wiping-traces-of-1931-abortion-ban-move-through-committees/

7. “Michigan House votes to repeal 1931 Abortion Ban” WILX, 3 Mar. 2023, https://www.wilx.com/2023/03/03/michigan-house-votes-repeal-1931-abortion-ban/

8. “State House Repeals 1931 Abortion Ban; Rep. Hill Votes ‘Yes'” Radioresultsnetwork.com, 3 Mar. 2023, https://www.radioresultsnetwork.com/2023/03/02/u-p-state-representative-hill-supports-repeal-of-1931-abortion-ban/

9. “Michigan moves closer to removing 1931 abortion ban from law books” WILX, 1 Mar. 2023, https://www.wilx.com/2023/03/01/watch-live-house-dems-bring-legislation-repealing-1931-abortion-ban-judiciary-committee/

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