Michigan Abortion Ban Put on Hold While Challenge Proceeds

Affiliate: ACLU of Michigan
March 14, 2005 12:00 am

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DETROIT, MI – The American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America announced today that the state has agreed to block enforcement of the Michigan abortion ban until the court considers the legal challenge against the law later this spring.

“We are relieved that this extreme measure will not go into effect as scheduled,” said Rev. Mark Pawlowski, CEO of Planned Parenthood of South Central Michigan, a plaintiff in the lawsuit. “This law dangerously interferes with medical practice, threatening women’s ability to obtain even a first-trimester abortion and, in some instances, preventing doctors from treating miscarriages.”

On March 1, the three groups filed a challenge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on behalf of reproductive health facilities, obstetrician-gynecologists, and their patients. The law, which was scheduled to take effect on March 30, will now remain enjoined until further consideration by the court.

According to the papers filed earlier this month, the ban not only prevents physicians from performing most abortions, but also denies patients the safest medical care, even in cases when a woman’s life or health is in danger. For example, a doctor would be unable to provide a woman with an abortion even if she suffers from diabetes or cardiac ailments and needs an abortion to protect her health.

“The legislature really overstepped its bounds with this ban,” said Kary Moss, ACLU of Michigan executive director. “Today’s order ensures that women will continue to be able to get the care they need while the court considers the scope of this dangerous and unconstitutional measure.”

The Michigan legislature passed the abortion ban last year despite two previous failed efforts. In June 1996, the legislature passed its first such bill. A year later, a federal judge declared that ban unconstitutional because it was vague and overbroad. Similarly in 2001, a federal judge struck down a second ban for failing to include an exception to protect women’s health.

“Michigan federal courts have already twice struck down dangerous abortion bans, and we are confident that when the court considers the ban in this case, it will find it unconstitutional and permanently block its enforcement,” said Linda Rosenthal, a staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights and one of the attorneys in the case.

Major medical organizations, including the Michigan State Medical Society, oppose the ban because it endangers women’s health.

The plaintiffs in the case are Northland Family Planning Clinic, Inc., Summit Medical Center, Planned Parenthood Mid-Michigan Alliance, Planned Parenthood of South Central Michigan, and a group of individual physicians. The plaintiffs are represented by Rosenthal of the Center for Reproductive Rights; David Nacht of David A. Nacht, P.C.; Talcott Camp and Chakshu Patel of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project; Michael J. Steinberg and Moss of the ACLU of Michigan; and Roger Evans and Donna Lee of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

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