June 8, 2022

Michigan Legislature Asks Court for Permission to Intervene in Lawsuit Against 1931 Abortion Law

On June 6, the Michigan legislature asked if it could be allowed to intervene in Planned Parenthood's lawsuit against the state's 1931 law banning abortion. This comes after the court issued a preliminary injunction that would prohibit the 1931 law from being enforced if Roe v. Wade is overturned before the Michigan lawsuit is settled.

The law has not been enforced for decades due to the US Supreme Court's ruling in Roe v. Wade. However, the recently leaked draft opinion from the US Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson would overturn Roe's precedent. This would allow states to once again enforce laws limiting or banning abortion.

Michigan legislators are requesting to defend the law because Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) are both taking the side of Planned Parenthood. Whitmer's administration has filed its own lawsuit with the same goal, and Nessel has stated that she would not enforce the abortion ban even if it did go into effect. This means that both sides of Planned Parenthood's lawsuit challenging the 1931 abortion ban are arguing for the same outcome.

“The Legislature’s motion to intervene is timely, coming just weeks after the court entered the (preliminary injunction) order,” the House and Senate said in a court filing. “There is no question that the Legislature has strong interests in ensuring that constitutional challenges to Michigan statutes present an actual controversy suitable for judicial resolution and, when necessary, in defending justiciable challenges. No existing party will adequately represent those interests here.”

Pro-life advocates are also concerned that the case is being considered by Michigan Judge Elizabeth Gleicher. Gleicher argued on behalf of Planned Parenthood in 1997 that the state constitution contained an implied right to abortion. The court ruled against Planned Parenthood at that time, but Planned Parenthood is attempting to make a similar argument now (albeit from a different angle).