Abortion rights advocates press to repeal nullified law


Reproductive rights remains a priority for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, even after voters amended the state constitution to ensure the right to abortion.

That includes repealing a now-unenforceable 1931 law criminalizing abortion.

A bill by Sen. Erika Geiss, D-Taylor, would repeal the 1931 law. Sen. Darrin Camilleri, D-Trenton, said that although voter approval of Proposal 3 nullifies most anti-abortion legislation, it’s still important to “clean up” what is on the books to match the constitutional amendment.

ACLU Legislative Director Merissa Kovach said the organization will work toward increasing access to abortion, such as repealing an informed consent law, that requires “biased, state-written information” be provided to patients at least 24 hours before their procedure, thus creating a mandatory 24-hour waiting period. 

“If you don’t have access to abortion, you have that right in name only,” Kovach said. “There are large swaths of the state, especially in Northern Michigan, where folks don’t have meaningful access to abortion.”

Some Michigan residents drive hours to receive abortion care. 

Camilleri said, “There are going to be some conversations around access and funding to make sure that we’re not in a position where health care access is determined by your income. We’re in a brand-new moment when it comes to reproductive health care.” 

Besides the 1931 law, the Legislature passed a 2013 law that bans private insurance from covering elective abortions without an optional rider policy being added. Kovach said that the ACLU will continue to push to repeal laws that it views as contradicting the results of the election.

“Abortion was literally on the ballot. Voters want meaningful access to abortion,” Kovach said.

Opponents of the ballot proposal said its passage does not inhibit their broader mission. 

Rebecca Mastee, the policy advocate at the Michigan Catholic Conference, said the organization will continue to tackle the factors that “drive women to abortion.”

“From our experience, the Catholic Church will continue to assist mothers and their children, born and unborn, by addressing their material, health and emotional needs until abortion is considered an unthinkable option, even if it is legal,” Mastee said. 

While the organization is still pushing for legal protections for the unborn, it will continue to provide insight to the trauma many women experience due to abortion, Mastee said. 

“We invite policymakers to work toward preventing abortion by supporting pregnant women, mothers in need, and those agencies or nonprofits that provide care for women from conception through and after birth,” she said.


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