Democratic Majority Keeps Abortion Access Center Stage in Lansing

Abortion rights protesters attend a rally outside the state Capitol in Lansing, Mich., on June 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

By Grace Panetta, The 19th

January 23, 2023

MICHIGAN—Democratic lawmakers who won full control of state government in Michigan have put abortion access at the top of their agenda in the 2023 legislative session.

Democrats made big gains in key states in the 2022 midterms thanks to an electorate galvanized by abortion. Now, newly energized lawmakers in Michigan, are putting their majority to work to solidify access to abortion and reproductive care. 

For years, divided government in the the battleground state barred Democrats from pursuing many of their policy priorities, including fortifying abortion rights. But Democrats secured complete control of state government in Michigan in the 2022 midterms after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, reelecting Democratic governors while flipping control of chambers long held by Republicans. And in Michigan, bills bolstering abortion access are still at the top of their legislative agenda. 

“Thanks to our historic victories last cycle, the new Democratic trifectas in states like Minnesota and Michigan are taking action on the issues that matter most to Americans,” Gabrielle Chew, a spokesperson for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, said in a statement. 

The results of the midterms represent a culmination of years of tireless work by advocates and a significant shift within the Democratic Party. Michigan hasn’t had a Democratic trifecta since the 1980s.

State lawmakers who flipped both chambers of the Michigan legislature in 2022 want to get old, unenforced laws dating back to 1931 that ban abortion procedures, medication abortion and contraception repealed and off the books for good. The 1931 abortion ban, which Michigan’s highest court blocked from taking effect in 2022, made it a felony offense to perform an abortion in most cases. 

“The government does not belong in the exam room as people make private medical decisions,” Michigan House Speaker Pro Tempore Laurie Pohutsky, the bill’s sponsor, said in a statement. “We must repeal old laws that no longer reflect the will of Michigan voters.”

Michigan voters approved a new constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to abortion and other forms of reproductive health care in the November midterms. 

The future of abortion remains unclear in other nearby Midwestern states where abortion bans are also in legal limbo or lawmakers want to make abortion more difficult to access in their 2023 legislative sessions. 

This coverage was republished from The 19th pursuant to a Creative Commons license.


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