Death of Roe v Wade could be a lifeline to Michigan Democrats


Nothing is official until it's official, but we know it's coming. The U.S. Supreme Court is overturning Roe v. Wade, likely next month. 

The impact in Michigan will be significant, functionally and politically. 

First, Michigan will be one of 26 states where abortion will be illegal if not immediately, very soon after.  

Attorney General Dana Nessel told the press that abortion will be illegal in Michigan the moment that decision hits. Michigan's 1931 law that bans abortion except in cases where the mother's life is at risk was never stripped from the books.  

Some question if Nessel's technically accurate, but she's not far off if she is. It may take 25 days or so for the U.S. Supreme Court to dismiss an obligatory reconsideration motion before things become really official. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is trying to convince the Michigan Supreme Court that the 90-year-old law is unconstitutional. Honestly, Whitmer has a better shot of sinking a half-court shot at half time of a Pistons’ home game. 

The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled in 1997 that the Michigan Constitution does not guarantee the right to abortion, so the Michigan Supreme Court will need to be convinced otherwise. 

What Michigan's 27 abortion providers will do isn't known. Nessel said she isn't going to enforce the law. Looking at where Michigan's abortion clinics are located, it's not hard to see county prosecutors in Washtenaw, Wayne and probably Oakland counties ignoring the law either. 

Sanctuary Michigan counties for abortions may be the upshot. Abortions could still be conducted in Illinois and Windsor, Canada, too. Whether the women who need them will be able to make the drive is the question. 

Michigan averages about 84 abortions a day, and Nessel, among others, is concerned about the desperate steps women will take if they can't travel somewhere to have an abortion. As far as Nessel is concerned, the fathering male could take desperate actions, too, if he finds it "easier to kill" or harm a partner than be financially tied to a woman who is mothering his child.

"My grave concern is that you are going to have women who are going to die for a number of different reasons," Nessel said. "I think it will lead to further harm and further death of women in our state." 

So, functionally, this decision isn't going to eliminate all abortion in Michigan, but it's expected to send some that do happen underground and unregulated. 

Politically, this is a development Democrats needed. They don't need the result. They need the distraction. 

Inflation is the tip-of-tongue issue for voters now, and Democrats —as the party in charge — are getting blamed for it. All things being equal, the Dems and Whitmer should be getting rolled this November, but the importance of this issue can't be underestimated. 

Around 300 people gathered on the Capitol lawn to protest news of the decision. 

Michigan Reproductive Freedom is collecting signatures to put on the November ballot a constitution amendment that would legalize abortion. Before the POLITICO leak was reported, the group had about 2,000 volunteers.  

By 5 p.m. the following day, 900 new recruits signed up to carry clipboards around. 

"It's unfortunate that it takes a horrific decision for people to realize what is at stake," said Dana Chicklas of ACLU Michigan.  

Will it be enough? We don't really know. Pollster Richard Czuba of the Glengariff Group projects the decision will motivate younger voters, women and progressives.  

Will it move the eye of independents off inflation and economy? Based on his numbers, 77% of independents support leaving Roe in place, but Czuba can't tell, yet, if it will supplant  inflation as their motivating reason to vote next November. 

Between this decision and Republicans’ nominating 2020 election result deniers to their ticket, the pending Roe reversal decision is another lifeline being handed to the Democrats. 

(Email Kyle Melinn of the Capitol news services MIRS at                      


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