May 8, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Michigan AG says she wouldn't enforce "draconian" 1931 abortion ban

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel wouldn't enforce an "incredibly draconian and strict" abortion law that would take effect in the state if Roe v. Wade is repealed, she told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday.

Why it matters: The 1931 law makes abortion a felony carrying a penalty of up to four years, with no exceptions for rape or incest, only to preserve the mother’s life. It's come under the spotlight after the leak of a Supreme Court draft opinion that signaled the Supreme Court is prepared to overturn Roe v. Wade.

  • While Roe v. Wade has taken precedence over state abortion bans for decades, Michigan's law was never repealed.

What they're saying: "As attorney general, I have statewide jurisdiction. And I ran on a platform of understanding that likely during the course of my term, Roe v. Wade would be overturned," Nessel said.

  • "And this incredibly draconian and strict 1931 law would criminalize abortion in this state with virtually no exceptions — no exception for rape, for incest, no exception for medical emergencies."
  • "I refuse to enforce this draconian law that will endanger their lives and put in jeopardy the health, safety and welfare of the lives of each and every woman in the state of Michigan."

The bottom line: "Let's be clear: women in my state, and in states all over America are going to die because of this position," Nessel said.

  • "Politicians do not belong in our doctor's offices. They don't belong in our bedrooms. And they should not be making these kinds of decisions on behalf of the American public and on behalf of women across America."

State of play: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) and the state's Planned Parenthood chapter filed separate lawsuits last month to block the enforcement of the 1931 law and protect the right to an abortion under the state's constitution.

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