(Reuters) – A 1931 Michigan law banning abortion with no exceptions for rape or incest violates the state’s constitution, a state court judge ruled on Wednesday, barring any prosecutors from enforcing it.
Judge Elizabeth Gleicher of the Michigan Court of Claims found that Michigan’s constitution guarantees a right to bodily autonomy including abortion. The ruling is a victory for providers including a Planned Parenthood affiliate, which had sued to block the law.
“A law denying safe, routine medical care not only denies women of their ability to control their bodies and their lives – it denies them of their dignity,” Gleicher wrote.
Leaders of the state’s Republican-controlled legislature, which defended the law, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The ruling came as Michigan’s Supreme Court was facing a Friday deadline to decide whether an amendment to legalize abortion statewide will appear on ballots in November.
Planned Parenthood and two doctors sued the state in April, as the U.S. Supreme Court was considering whether to overturn its longstanding precedent in Roe v. Wade that established a nationwide right to abortion. They said the 1931 law, which allows abortion only to save the mother’s life, violated the state constitution’s right to due process and equal protection under the law.
Gleicher temporarily blocked the law in May, stopping it from taking effect when the U.S. Supreme Court in June overturned Roe in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel, both Democrats, said the state would take no action to enforce the law. However, some county prosecutors had said they would enforce it if they were allowed to.
Planned Parenthood described Wednesday’s ruling as a “critical victory for abortion access.”
Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, a national anti-abortion group, expressed “deep disappointment” with the ruling.
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe, about half of U.S. states are expected to seek to restrict abortions, or have already done so, sparking a wave of litigation around the country.
Democrats are increasingly hopeful the Supreme Court decision will boost voter support in the midterm elections, which would historically see the party lose control of one or both houses of Congress.
(Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York and Kanishka Singh in Washington; additional reporting by Gabriella Borter, Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi, Marguerita Choy and Chris Reese)
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