Reproductive Rights Groups Hail Decision Striking Down Michigan’s Third Attempt at a Dangerous and Extreme Ban on Abortion

Affiliate: ACLU of Michigan
June 4, 2007 12:00 am

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CINCINNATI – The American Civil Liberties Union, Center for Reproductive Rights, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America today hailed a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit striking down Michigan’s third attempt at a dangerous and extreme ban on abortion. The ban would prohibit nearly all abortions and fails to provide an adequate exception to protect women’s health.

“We are pleased that the court recognized the importance of stopping an extreme ban that would have prohibited nearly all abortion in Michigan,” said Brigitte Amiri, a staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project.

In today’s decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld a federal district court ruling from September 2005 striking down the Legal Birth Definition Act. Today’s decision notes that “the Michigan legislature appears to have cast a wide net that would prohibit virtually all methods of abortions” from the earliest stages of pregnancy. The court also distinguishes this ban from the federal ban recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in Gonzales v. Carhart. In fact, today’s court held that the Michigan language “pushed almost every boundary that the Supreme Court has imposed for these types of laws.”

“Women, not politicians, should make decisions regarding pregnancy,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Politicians crafted this ban in an attempt to eliminate safe, legal abortions at any cost.”

The Michigan legislature passed the abortion ban in 2004 despite federal courts striking down two similar bans in previous years. In June 1996, the legislature passed its first abortion ban. 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 because it lacked an exception to protect women’s health.

“Major medical organizations, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, oppose this ban because it threatens women’s health,” said Sarah Scranton, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of Michigan. “We hope the Michigan legislature will finally get the message that they can no longer play politics with women’s health care.

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.

Today’s case is Northland Family v. Cox, Case Numbers 05-2417 and 05-2418. The plaintiffs are represented by Amiri and Talcott Camp of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project; Michael J. Steinberg and Kary Moss of the ACLU of Michigan; Eve Gartner and Roger Evans of Planned Parenthood Federation of America; Simon Heller of the Center for Reproductive Rights; and David Nacht of David A. Nacht, P.C.

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