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Michigan Edges Toward Ban on Common Abortion Procedure

Dec. 24, 2019, 6:23 PM

Michigan may be the next state to ban the most common second-trimester abortion procedure, with the state edging toward a possible veto-proof vote by the Legislature in early 2020.

Anti-abortion group Right to Life Michigan said it handed in more than enough valid signatures Dec. 23 to put its proposed ban of dilation-and-evacuation abortion procedures before the Legislature in 2020. The procedure, which dismembers the fetus, is the most common second-trimester abortion operation.

The vote would be held under a divisive process that allows the Michigan House and Senate to adopt citizen referendums headed to the ballot on a majority vote not subject to veto. Right to Life of Michigan has used the referendum-to-adoption process four times in the past when a governor opposing abortion restrictions proved a barrier in Lansing, and the group says it already has assurances from GOP leaders in the House and Senate that the ban will be adopted.

“The 379,418 people who signed their names on this life-saving dismemberment ban should be confident that our prolife majorities in the Michigan Legislature will pass the bill again, just like they did back in May,” Right to Life of Michigan President Barbara Listing said in a Dec. 23 statement.

Governor Vetoed Bill in May

In May the House and Senate both passed a dilation-and-evacuation ban bill. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), who didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, vetoed it.

If the state Bureau of Elections verifies the group’s signatures, Michigan could become the 12th state to enact a dilation-and-evacuation ban, according to a tracker by the pro-abortion rights Guttmacher Institute. The majority of these laws are being fought over in the courts, according to the institute.

“The majority of the Senate Republican Caucus supports the policy,” Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R) spokesperson Amber McCann said in an Dec. 24 email. Speaker Lee Chatfield (R) didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Legal Challenge Expected

Michigan would be the third state in the Midwest, following Ohio and Indiana, to adopt the ban, and the rule is expected to receive an immediate challenge in the courts, just as it has in those states.

But unlike in those states, the Michigan attorney general may not provide a defense to the law. The office of the state’s attorney general, Dana Nessel (D), didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Michigan’s law currently states that if the U.S. Supreme Court overrules Roe v. Wade and removes the constitutional protection right to an abortion, the state will also criminalize abortion. If that came to pass, Nessel has said her office wouldn’t enforce the state’s law.

Planned Parenthood receives funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charitable organization founded by Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg Law is operated by entities controlled by Michael Bloomberg.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Ebert in Columbus, Ohio at aebert@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Fawn Johnson at fjohnson@bloomberglaw.com; Peggy Aulino at maulino@bloomberglaw.com

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