NewsLocal NewsMichigan


’This is an assault on everyone’: ACLU, AG Nessel ready to protect abortion rights in Michigan

AG Dana Nessel says she will not enforce 1931 law that criminalizes abortions if Roe v. Wade is overturned
Posted at 7:42 PM, May 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-03 21:50:13-04

MICHIGAN — Monday night, POLITICO leaked a draft opinion revealing that the historic Roe v. Wade ruling could be overturned by the Supreme Court. Immediately fence barricades were put up in Washington D.C. Tuesday morning, protests formed in the Capitol.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan said they saw this coming years ago.

“We knew that Supreme Court was poised to overturn Roe v. Wade. But now we have definitive proof of where they intend to take this, and it is quite a gut punch,” said Merissa Kovach during a Zoom interview on Tuesday. “It’s very scary. But this is a moment. It’s a wake-up call and us having this proof that there’s a majority of justices that have voted and intend to overturn Roe v. Wade, that this is a moment for us to still fight.”

Roe v. Wade was decided back in 1973 after a Texas mother, who went by the pseudonym Jane Roe and was seeking to have an abortion, filed a lawsuit asserting that the state's abortion laws were unconstitutional. The justices back then voted 7–2 and ruled in her favor, making abortions legal nationwide.

Late Monday night, the leak of the opinion put that ruling into jeopardy, especially in states like Michigan where trigger laws exist.

“Michigan is one of the states that has what we call a trigger law,” said Attorney General Dana Nessel during a virtual media briefing. “That law is MCL 750.14 and what that means is that abortion is not just illegal. It’s a crime. It’s not just something someone can sue over civilly. People can go to jail or prison for this.”

Currently 13 states have them. Michigan’s stems from a 1931 law that criminalized abortions.

Nessel said that should Roe v. Wade be overturned, the 1931 law will immediately go into effect. She fears that it could be harmful to women, and could lead to a rise in domestic violence and domestic homicide cases.

“People have abortions for all kinds of reasons. Many of them are medically necessary,” Nessel said. “But I think that this will kind of have a chilling effect that doctors will just simply not perform this procedure really under any set of circumstances because they don’t want to get dragged into court. They don’t want to face the possibility of being prosecuted.”

Nessel stated a few times during the briefing that she “will not enforce this law" if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

In fact, last month, both Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the ACLU filed lawsuits to keep abortions legal in the state, asking Michigan’s Supreme Court to rule on it before it’s decided on in D.C.

READ MORE: Michigan governor sues to secure abortion rights, vacate ban

“It’s not just abortion rights on the line. It doesn’t stop there,” Kovach said. “This is an assault on everyone. Certainly it will be felt hardest on the most marginalized in our community on Black and Brown folks, on immigrants, on LGBTQ+ community. But, it doesn’t stop there.”

Following the governor’s and the ACLU lawsuits, attorneys with the Alliance Defending Freedom filed a motion to intervene. The ADF Senior Counsel and Vice President of Appellate Advocacy John Bursch stated:

“Every human life is valuable and worthy of protection under the law. Gov. Whitmer should be doing everything in her power to uphold existing laws that protect the innocent and vulnerable lives of the unborn. Instead, both she and the attorney general are attacking a law that was rightly enacted by the people of Michigan and has been serving them well for more than half a century. We urge the court to listen to the voices of those standing up in defense of the unborn—Right to Life of Michigan and the Michigan Catholic Conference—by allowing them to intervene in this lawsuit.”

Kovach said the ACLU is fighting back.

Michigan is a founding member of Reproductive For All ballot initiative. They’re currently collecting signatures and need over 400,000 by July in order to get it on the ballot for November.

Kovach reiterated that their fight to protect reproductive freedom and abortion rights will not end.

“This is incredibly scary," Kovach said. "We are at the cusp of a human rights and public health crisis in this country, in this state of Michigan. So, I cannot overemphasize enough that we need a direct response to this and we absolutely have to fight with everything that we have to make sure that this does not go the way that it is clearly going.”

READ MORE: Governor Whitmer joins coalition urging Congress to uphold abortion rights

Follow FOX 17: Facebook - Twitter - Instagram - YouTube