Michigan’s Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer has filed a lawsuit to remove a nearly 100-year-old unenforced state law banning abortion, as states prepare for a US Supreme Court ruling that could upend constitutional protections for abortion care.
In the coming months, the nation’s high court is expected to rule in a Mississippi case involving a state law banning abortion at 15 weeks of pregnancy, and the state’s attorneys have pressed the court to dismiss 50-year-old precedent from Roe v Wadeas well as precedent established in a separate case, Planned Parenthood v Casey.
“No matter what happens to RoeI am going to fight like hell and use all the tools I have as governor to ensure reproductive freedom is a right for all women in Michigan,” Governor Whitmer said in a statement. “If the US Supreme Court refuses to protect the constitutional right to an abortion, the Michigan Supreme Court should step in.”
The governor’s lawsuit in Oakland County Circuit Court has invoked her executive authority to ask the state Supreme Court to immediately intervene to overturn the 1931 law; Planned Parenthood has filed a similar suit with the Michigan Court of Claims.
Several states have nearly total bans on abortions that preceded the landmark 1973 decision in Roewhich effectively invalidated such bans, though those laws remain on the books, unenforceable.
Meanwhile, Republican officials across the US – emboldened by the high court’s anticipated ruling in a case that could determine the fate of healthcare protections for women – have filed dozens of bills or have approved laws that could immediately or quickly ban abortion in more than 20 states if Roe is overturned, blocking abortion care for millions of Americans.
Following December’s opening arguments in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organizationthe Supreme Court’s six conservative justices signalled their readiness to uphold Mississippi aw, marking the biggest direct challenge to the constitutional right to abortion care.
The Supreme Court has also declined to intervene to stop a Texas law that bans abortions in nearly all cases, including in the event of rape or incest.
This week, Oklahoma’s House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a bill making it a felony to perform an abortion in the state, punishable by up to 10 years in jail.
Oklahoma state legislators also approved a bill this year banning abortions in nearly all instances, including barring physicians from performing or inducing an abortion at any point in the pregnancy unless it is “to save the life” of the pregnant person.
If signed into law, the ban would go into effect immediately.
A bill in Idaho – the first in the nation to draft legislation mirroring the restrictive Texas law – also allows family members of what the legislation calls “a preborn child” to pursue legal action against providers, with a reward of at least $20,000 plus legal fees, in lawsuits that can be filed up to four years after an abortion.
Opponents argue such provisions effectively allow people to profit from “bounties” targeting women seeking medical care.
Republicans in several other states – including Arizona, Kentucky, Florida and West Virginia – have passed measures mirroring the law at the centre of the Supreme Court case by banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
On Monday, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed the Reproductive Health Equity Act to codify abortion rights in the state.