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Michigan Abortion Law Precedent


The legal history and precedent of Michigan's abortion law is one of the most consistent and unique in the entire nation. Dating back to 1846, Michigan law has continuously prohibited abortion, with the only exception being an abortion to save the life of the mother. This reflects a simple, but profound public policy that is both logical and ultimately compassionate: human life is of ultimate value and each life equally so. No human being's life is more valuable than another. Thus, only in the case where both the life of the mother and the child cannot be saved is there a justification for purposely taking the life of the child in order to save the mother.

The following facts demonstrate Michigan's unique status as a protector of the rights of unborn human beings:

• Michigan's ban on abortion remains on the books and has been continuously enforceable since 1846. It is currently only partially enforceable since Roe v. Wade. The Michigan Supreme Court, however, established very clearly after Roe, that Michigan's policy is to prohibit abortion except to save the life of the mother (People v. Bricker, 1973).

• The voters of Michigan rejected the legalization of abortion in the statewide ballot Proposal B of 1972, voting 61 percent to 39 percent to retain the abortion prohibition.

• Public Act 59 of 1987, enacted via a citizen-initiated petition, ended Medicaid funding of abortion with only a life of the mother exception. PA 59 was then placed on the ballot for a referendum repeal vote in November 1988. Despite the emphasis by the pro-repeal campaign that the law had no "rape or incest exception," voters upheld the ban 57 percent to 43 percent.

• Michigan's parental consent for abortion law (PA 211 of 1990), enacted via a citizen-initiated petition, contains no exception for cases of rape or incest.

• Michigan's 24-hour waiting period/informed consent law (PA 133 of 1993) contains no exception for cases of rape or incest.

• Michigan's ban on Partial Birth Abortions (PA 168 of 2011) contains no exception for cases of rape and incest.

Michigan is the only state in the nation with a state court ruling declaring that no right to abortion exists in its state constitution. In contrast to 17 state supreme courts issuing "state-level Roe v. Wade decisions," the ruling in Mahaffey v. Attorney General (Michigan Court of Appeals, 1997, affirmed by Michigan Supreme Court, 1998), declared no such right to abortion exists in Michigan's Constitution. That ruling cited several factors for this finding, including the state's long-standing abortion prohibition and the voters' rejection of legal abortion in 1972.