Judge Elizabeth Gleicher Strikes Down Michigan’s Pre-Roe Abortion Ban

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Nicole Silverio Media Reporter
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A Michigan judge ruled Wednesday that a 1931 trigger law criminalizing most abortions violates the state Constitution.

Court of Claims Judge Elizabeth Gleicher wrote in her opinion that banning abortion will “endanger the health and lives” of pregnant women, according to the Detroit Free Press.

“Manifestly, criminalizing abortion will eliminate access to a mainstay healthcare service. For 50 years, Michiganders have freely exercised the right to safely control their health and their reproductive destinies by deciding when and whether to carry a pregnancy to term. Eliminating abortion access will force pregnant women to forgo control of the integrity of their own bodies, regardless of the effect on their health and lives,” Gleicher wrote in the opinion, according to the Detroit Free Press.

“Enforcement of (the criminal abortion ban) will endanger the health and lives of women seeking to exercise their constitutional right to abortion. Enforcement also threatens pregnant women with irreparable injury because without the availability of abortion services, women will be denied appropriate, safe and constitutionally protected medical care,” Gleicher continued, according to the outlet.

The 1931 law outlaws all abortions except in cases of saving the mother’s life, according to an excerpt from the Michigan Penal Code. Under the law, a medical professional who performs an abortion will be charged with a felony.

Gleicher argued the law violates a pregnant woman’s constitutional right to equal protection and the right to bodily autonomy, the Detroit Free Press reported. She reportedly further argued the law “deprives only women of their ability to thrive” outside of the home. (RELATED: Michigan Judge Blocks Pro-Life State Abortion Law)

“Our Constitution does not permit the Legislature to impose unjustifiable burdens on different classes of pregnant women,” Gleicher wrote in her decision, according to the outlet. “It also forbids treating pregnant women as unequal to men in terms of their ability to make personal decisions about when and whether to be a parent.”

The judge’s ruling responded to a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood of Michigan against Democratic Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, the outlet reported. Gleicher allegedly placed a preliminary injunction on the law in May, which she argued should prevent Nessel or any county prosecutor from enforcing the law. The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled in August that the injunction did not apply to county prosecutors, the Detroit Free Press noted.

The judge said she has repeatedly donated to Planned Parenthood and involved herself in a 1990’s lawsuit aimed at keeping abortion legal in Michigan, the outlet continued. She also donated to the campaigns of Nessel and Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, NBC News reported. Gleicher allegedly did not recuse herself from the case despite her reported past donations.

Abortion advocates have collected over 750,000 signatures to add a proposed referendum to the ballot in an attempt to add abortion rights to the Michigan Constitution, according to the Detroit Free Press. The regulatory body, the Michigan Board of State Canvassers, reportedly refused to formally certify the proposal, suggesting it contained potentially “fatal flaws.” Advocates appealed the decision to the Michigan Supreme Court, which is expected to make a decision by Friday, the outlet noted.

Gov. Whitmer filed a separate lawsuit in April against prosecutors in 13 counties with abortion clinics to request a state court to recognize abortion as a constitutional right. The governor sued in an attempt to prevent the law from taking effect with the foreseen overturn of Roe v. Wade. An Oakland County judge ruled in favor of the governor, saying the law cannot be enforced.