What happens in Michigan if Roe v. Wade is overturned?

What happens in Michigan if Roe v. Wade is overturned?
Published: May. 3, 2022 at 6:14 PM EDT|Updated: May. 3, 2022 at 6:17 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - At this point, it looks like the end of Roe V. Wade is all but a sure thing. What happens “after” the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the right to an abortion is much less certain.

Background: Draft opinion jolts Michigan, where abortion ban is on books

The leaked draft opinion upending abortion rights in America isn’t set in stone -- a justice could still change their mind.

Kyla Stepp, legal expert and political science professor at Central Michigan University, said the situation is unprecedented in modern times.

“For something like this to happen is just completely unprecedented, we just haven’t seen it before. So it will be interesting to see what happens,” said Stepp.

If the draft ruling holds up, abortion will be illegal in Michigan. That’s in part due to 1846 and 1931 laws making abortion not only illegal, but a criminal offense.

But even those laws aren’t guaranteed to stay in place. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is suing to get the state law thrown out. There’s also a petition drive aimed at getting a constitutional amendment legalizing abortion on the state ballot.

“It’s certainly possible that once this ruling is released in May or June that abortion could be banned going forward,” said Stepp. “In Michigan, temporarily or maybe even permanently depending on the outcome of these lawsuits and the voter initiative.”

If those efforts fail, Michigan’s Attorney General tells us her office won’t be prosecuting people who have or provide an abortion.

“I’m merely sending the message that my office will not be involved in any of these prosecutions.” said AG Dana Nessel. ”And I guess you know, people in those counties where the prosecutor have also indicated they’re not going to prosecute, they can receive that however they like.”

As for abortion opponents, Anna Visser, with the Right to Life of Michigan, said they’re staying cautiously optimistic before anything becomes official.

“We don’t want to get our hopes up if something changes so we’re optimistic that it is looking towards overturning Roe v. Wade but we want to be cautious as well,” said Visser.

The U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed the leaked draft is real. It wouldn’t be unheard of for a justice to change their mind. Chief Justice John Roberts did it during the case that upheld Obamacare. He originally voted to throw the law out then reversed himself before the decision was released.

Read more: What is Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion access case?

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