9 States Have Pre-Roe Abortion Bans. A Michigan Judge Just Suspended One.

The law dates from 1931, but a judge ruled it cannot be enforced if Roe is struck down.
Protesters march through downtown Detroit in support of Roe v Wade, 2022/05/07.​ (Matthew Hatcher/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Protesters march through downtown Detroit in support of Roe v Wade, 2022/05/07. (Matthew Hatcher/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

A law that could ban abortions in Michigan if the Supreme Court decimates the national right to the procedure has been put on ice, thanks to a court order Tuesday.

A Michigan Court of Claims judge has issued a preliminary injunction blocking the 1931 law, which predates Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide. Planned Parenthood of Michigan sued over the law in April, in anticipation of the possibility that the majority-conservative Supreme Court would overturn Roe and leave states free to ban abortion.


Under Judge Elizabeth Gleicher’s ruling, the 1931 law cannot be enforced if Roe is struck down.

“After 50 years of legal abortion in Michigan, there can be no doubt that the right of personal autonomy and bodily integrity enjoyed by our citizens includes the right of a woman, in consultation with her physician, to terminate a pregnancy,” Gleicher wrote in her ruling.

The Supreme Court is expected to officially rule in the coming weeks in a Mississippi abortion ban case that could determine Roe’s fate, but a draft opinion leaked earlier this month indicates that the justices do plan to overturn the landmark ruling. Without Roe, the war over abortion would become a series of state-by-state battles

As of early May, nine states, including Michigan, have abortion bans on the books that predate Roe and that are currently not in effect—but could be resurrected to outlaw abortion if Roe falls. Thirteen states have also passed so-called “trigger laws,” which are post-Roe abortion bans that are currently unenforced, but would kick in once Roe is overturned.

In total, 26 states are certain or likely to ban abortion if Roe is overturned, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks abortion rights.

Abortion rights activists in Michigan are also currently at work on a ballot initiative that would enshrine the right to abortion in the state constitution. That initiative, they hope, will appear on ballots in the state’s November elections.

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