GOP-led Michigan Legislature to intervene in lawsuit targeting 1931 abortion law

Decision is expected to come in late June or early July

New developments in the battle to block enforcement of Michigan’s 1931 abortion law as Michigan Legislature plans to step in as the defendant and fight to keep that law in place if Roe v. Wade gets overturned.

LANSING, Mich. – New developments in the battle to block enforcement of Michigan’s 1931 abortion law as the Republican-led Michigan Legislature plans to step in as the defendant and fight to keep that law in place if Roe V. Wade gets overturned.

Monday (June 6), Michigan Legislature made a motion to intervene in Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit.

Legal analyst and former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said it’s highly unusual.

The lawsuit was intended to stop the enforcement of Michigan’s 1931 law that would make abortion a felony if Roe V. Wade was overturned.

“The plaintiffs, Planned Parenthood, in this case, won their initial injunction by default,” said McQuade. “They won on the merits, but there was no opposing party there to argue the other side. That was just a preliminary ruling, but now the Michigan Legislature will be there. They’ll hire a lawyer to represent them, to defend the 1931 statute that makes abortion a felony in Michigan.”

McQuade said before anything moves forward, a judge needs to make a decision.

“The judge has to make a decision about whether the parties have a real interest at stake in allowing people to intervene,” McQuade said. “I would think the Legislature is such a party. This is a statute they passed. If the attorney general of the state is not going to defend the statute, which is ordinarily her role, then I would think that a judge, any judge, would want to have a real party in interest to make the argument.”

State Rep. Pamela Hornberger of the 32nd District said in a statement:

”Should the Governor and these fringe activists succeed in their effort to create a constitutional right to abortion out of thin air, it will open the floodgates to partial-birth and late-term abortions. That’s Planned Parenthood’s goal. My Republican colleagues and I will fight like hell to make sure they are not successful. Polling across Michigan shows that the people are overwhelmingly opposed to late-term and partial-birth abortion methods. As the people’s representatives, the Legislature has a responsibility to intervene to defend our law. We will use every tool at our disposal to defend Michigan law and protect the life of the unborn.”

State Rep. Pamela Hornberger

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement:

“I have made very clear that I will not put the lives of Michigan women in jeopardy by using the resources of my office to defend Michigan’s 1931 statute criminalizing abortion. This is in stark contrast to a state GOP budget plan that sets aside $750,000 in state funding to enforce this archaic law and puts restrictions on funds going to medical providers. While many of my colleagues in the legislature want to strip women of their rights, I will continue to protect women’s reproductive health and their fundamental right to make decisions over their own bodies.”

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel

State Rep. John Damoose, Founder and Co-chair of the Legislative Pro-Life Caucus said in a statement:

”Meanwhile, radical abortion activists are demanding that state judges attempt to legislate from the bench to attack legitimate pro-life laws, and Attorney General Nessel’s inaction has boosted that effort. The Legislature is rightly going to court to step in. If the attorney general won’t defend life and defend the law, then we will.”

State Rep. John Damoose

The biggest factor in all of this is the Supreme Court’s ruling on Roe V. Wade. That decision is expected to come in late June or early July.

About the Authors:

Megan Woods is thrilled to be back home and reporting at Local 4. She joined the team in September 2021. Before returning to Michigan, Megan reported at stations across the country including Northern Michigan, Southwest Louisiana and a sister station in Southwest Virginia.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.