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State Files Motion to Dismiss Complaint in Litigation Over Reproductive Freedom

LANSING – Today, in response to a lawsuit filed by Right to Life of Michigan seeking to strike down the right to reproductive freedom, the Michigan Department of Attorney General filed a motion to dismiss and brief in support of the motion. The Department alleges that the plaintiffs lack standing to file such a complaint, and that even if plaintiffs could prove sufficient standing, their claims "fail as a matter of law."

Following the United States Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the issue of abortion was returned to the jurisdiction of individual states. To guard against the revival of an extreme, decades-old statute criminalizing all abortions except those performed to preserve the life of the pregnant individual and definitively resolve the issue within this State, Michigan voters passed Proposition 3 to amend the state Constitution and enshrine within it a right to reproductive freedom.

In November 2023, Right to Life of Michigan, along with Republican lawmakers and others opposed to Michiganders’ right to abortion, filed a federal lawsuit seeking to invalidate and enjoin Section 28 of Article 1 of the Michigan Constitution, which became the law following the passage of Proposal 3. The lawsuit names Attorney General Dana Nessel, Governor Gretchen Whitmer, and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson as defendants and seeks to overturn the will of the People of Michigan.

“The plaintiffs in this case seek to undermine the will of Michigan voters, whose overwhelming support for Proposition 3 in the wake of Roe being overturned ensured that the people of our state are guaranteed agency over their own personal medical decisions,” said Attorney General Nessel. “Our judicial system does not allow individuals to control the behavior of their fellow residents on the basis of conjecture and hypothetical scenarios. My department is steadfast in our support of the health, safety, and wellness of all Michigan residents, including on the issue of reproductive freedom. The People of Michigan have repeatedly shown their support for bodily autonomy under the law, and we will not allow a small contingent of outspoken dissidents to overpower popular consensus as we chart the course for the future of our state.”

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said, “The people of Michigan spoke loud and clear in 2022 and voted to enshrine reproductive freedom into our state constitution. This lawsuit doesn’t just say that abortion should be illegal in Michigan, it would take away the voters’ right to amend our constitution through ballot initiatives. This is a fight for our right to self-determination and I’m proud to stand up for Michigan voters’ authority to enact laws when their representatives don’t uphold the will of the people.”

Nessel has been an outspoken advocate for reproductive health since taking office in 2019. The Attorney General has joined multi-state amicus briefs to support access to healthcare in Idaho and Indiana and has also joined coalitions seeking to preserve access to medication abortion nationwide.

When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, triggering Michigan’s 1931 abortion ban statute to go into effect, Nessel made it clear that she would not use the resources of her office to defend the statute, which criminalized abortion. She called for the repeal of the 1931 abortion law and in March of this year, the Michigan Legislature voted to do just that. Nessel also filed a brief in support of placing abortion access on the November 2022 ballot.

The plaintiffs will have an opportunity to respond, and the court will determine the next steps.


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