DETROIT (AP) — A judge on Tuesday suspended Michigan’s dormant ban on abortion, saying it likely violates the state constitution.
The law, which makes it a crime to assist in an abortion, has been on the books since 1931. But it has had no practical effect since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973.
The Supreme Court, however, could overturn that decision by summer, leaving abortion issues for each state to decide.
Court of Claims Judge Elizabeth Gleicher granted a preliminary injunction sought by Planned Parenthood of Michigan.
“After 50 years of legal abortion in Michigan, there can be no doubt but 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,” the judge said.
“From a constitutional standpoint, the right to obtain a safe medical treatment is indistinguishable from the right of a patient to refuse treatment,” Gleicher said.
Gleicher said other Michigan laws regulating abortion will remain in full effect.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, called the decision a victory.
It “sends the message that Michigan’s 1931 law banning abortion, even in cases of rape or incest, should not go into effect even if Roe is overturned,” Whitmer said. “It will help ensure that Michigan remains a place where women have freedom and control over their own bodies.”
The lawsuit by Planned Parenthood, which performs abortions, is one of two legal challenges in the state. Whitmer, who supports abortion rights, has asked the Michigan Supreme Court to bypass lower courts and declare the 91-year-old law unconstitutional.
In May, Politico published a leaked draft of a U.S. Supreme Court opinion. The document indicates the court could be poised to overturn its landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide.