Michigan Abortion Law Declared Unconstitutional

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Michigan's law aimed at banning a controversial abortion procedure is unconstitutional despite a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upheld a federal ban, an appeals court ruled Monday.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a Detroit district judge's opinion that the 2004 Legal Birth Definition Act places an "undue burden" on a woman's right to choose an abortion.

The appeals court said if Michigan had copied an Ohio law that has been upheld in the 6th Circuit, it would have been "virtually guaranteed" a favorable result on appeal.

"It instead opted to use statutory language that pushed almost every boundary that the Supreme Court has imposed for these types of laws," the three-judge panel said.

Proponents of the Michigan law have said they were attempting to ban a procedure they call "partial-birth" abortion. Previous attempts by state lawmakers to stop the abortion procedure were struck down by federal courts in 1997 and 2001.

Abortion rights groups have said the latest law overreached and would have banned pre-viable abortions including the most common method of second-trimester abortion, dilation and evacuation. The appeals court agreed with that position, ruling that unlike the federal ban, Michigan's ban goes too far.

Ohio's law was worded explicitly to not apply to D&E, the appeals court said.

"The Michigan statute contains no similar exception or clear definitions that would avoid sweeping up protected abortion procedures within its prohibition," the court wrote.

The Legislature approved the abortion law in June 2004. Hundreds of thousands of voters signed petitions that allowed the bill to become law with only the approval of the House and Senate, both of which were controlled by Republicans at the time, after Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm vetoed it.

Republican Attorney General Mike Cox defended the law in court, arguing that it only bans the procedure doctors label "intact dilation and extraction" and not other procedures that are constitutionally protected.

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