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Governor Whitmer Repeals Michigan’s Extreme 1931 Abortion Ban


April 5, 2023 


Governor Whitmer Repeals Michigan’s Extreme 1931 Abortion Ban

New laws bring state law up to date with Michigan constitution, guarantee rights and freedoms for Michiganders, and build on state’s welcoming reputation for talent and investment


LANSING, Mich. – Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed bipartisan legislation repealing the state’s 1931 law banning abortion without exceptions for rape or incest and criminalizing nurses and doctors for doing their jobs. Last year, Michiganders turned out in record numbers to get Proposal 3 on the ballot and enshrine reproductive freedom in the state constitution. The new laws remove the unconstitutional 1931 law from the books and ensure that Michiganders can make their own decisions about their own bodies. 


“In November, Michiganders sent a clear message: we deserve to make our own decisions about own bodies,” said Governor Whitmer. “Today, we are coming together to repeal the extreme 1931 law banning abortion without exceptions for rape or incest and criminalizing nurses and doctors for doing their jobs. Standing up for people’s fundamental freedoms is the right thing to do and it’s also just good economics. By getting this done, we will help attract talent and business investment too. I will continue to use every tool in my toolbox to support, protect, and affirm reproductive freedom for every Michigander, and I’ll work with anyone to make Michigan a welcoming beacon of opportunity where anyone can envision a future.”


At the signing, the governor and lieutenant governor were joined by bill sponsors and representatives from Planned Parenthood, NARAL, EMILY’s LIST, and the Committee to Protect.


With today’s signing, Michigan joins 10 other states who have moved to protect reproductive freedoms and access to safe, legal abortion in the wake of Dobbs v. Jackson. The decision to become a parent or grow a family is one of the biggest economic decisions a person will make in their lifetime. Over 2/3rds of Michiganders support Roe v. Wade and want to repeal our 1931 law banning abortion. 77% of Michiganders believe that abortion should be a woman’s decision to make with a medical professional.


“Last year Michiganders made it clear that they want abortion to remain safe and legal, and while there is still much work to be done to ensure abortion is accessible to everyone in our state, repealing the 1931 criminal abortion ban once and for all is the first step in that process, and one I am grateful is complete as of today," said Speaker Pro Tempore Rep. Laurie Pohutsky, (D—Livonia), sponsor of HB 4006.


House Bill 4006 repeals the section of the Penal Code which prescribes a felony for administering to a pregnant woman any medicine, drug, or substance, or employing any instrument or other means, with intent to procure a miscarriage, unless it is necessary to protect the life of the mother. HB 4006 also repeals the section of the Penal Code which prescribes a misdemeanor penalty for a person who advertises, publishes, or sells any pills, powder, drugs or combination of drugs, designed expressly for the use of females for the purpose of procuring an abortion.


“Today marks a culmination of a years-long attempt since 2018 when I introduced the first bill in the Michigan legislature aimed at repealing the anti-abortion, anti-contraception, anti-reproductive health laws from 1931. Today, we strike down these laws that served to stymie the freedom of people to have the bodily autonomy to manage their own sexual and reproductive health once and for all,” said Sen. Erika Geiss (D—Taylor), sponsor of SB 2. “Last June, we learned that Roe was not protected. Today, in Michigan however, reproductive freedom, access to abortion, and the bodily autonomy to control one’s reproductive health are,” she continued.


Senate Bill 2 repeals Section 40 of the Michigan Penal Code, which prohibits the publication or sale of any circular, pamphlet or book that contains recipes for compounds to prevent conception or that tend to produce miscarriage or abortion.


“When the people of Michigan speak, the legislature listens and acts,” said Rep. Stephanie A. Young, sponsor of HB 4032.  “I’m grateful that women who make the difficult decision to seek an abortion for any number of reasons, can rest assured they won’t be criminalized for it, but instead supported.”


House Bill 4032 deletes the sentencing guidelines to conform with the repeal of the Penal Code sections in HB 4006.


“With the repeal of Michigan’s 1931 criminal abortion ban, Michigan continues to lead the way in the fight to restore our fundamental right to access abortion,” said Nicole Wells Stallworth, Executive Director, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan. “We are grateful to Governor Whitmer and reproductive health champions in the legislature who have worked to remove this dangerous and unconstitutional abortion ban from Michigan’s law books. Abortion providers will no longer have to fear they will be criminally prosecuted for delivering the essential, life-saving health care their patients need and deserve.”


“Today is a testament to the power of our voices and the strength of our votes, proving progress is possible when we elect those who champion our freedoms,” said NARAL Pro-Choice America President Mini Timmaraju.“NARAL Pro-Choice America and our 125,500 Michigan members thank Governor Gretchen Whitmer for her unwavering commitment to reproductive freedom. Today is a crucial step in the fight for freedom and abortion access for Michiganders today, tomorrow, and for generations to come.”


 “EMILYs List thanks Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for her unwavering leadership in protecting reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy and for keeping her promise to fight like hell and protect Michiganders’ abortion rights. Now, thanks to her, this draconian, outdated law was defeated, despite relentless Republican attacks on abortion rights and access,” said Laphonza Butler, President of EMILYs List. “Of course, this historic moment would not have been possible without the swift action of Michigan’s Democratic trifecta — including 31 EMILYs List-endorsed Democratic pro-choice women legislators — proving that when we elect Democratic pro-choice women to office, they not only fight for our rights and freedoms, but they also change the world.


Governor Whitmer’s Actions to Protect Reproductive Freedom

Governor Whitmer is committed to using every tool in her toolbox to protect access to safe, legal abortion and reproductive healthcare services in Michigan. Last year, she secured and defended a preliminary injunction against the 1931 abortion ban, instructed state departments to assess opportunities to increase protections for reproductive healthcare, signed an executive order refusing to extradite women or health care providers who seek reproductive freedom in Michigan, launched public awareness campaigns to educate Michiganders about the availability of no-cost contraception, and expanded access to birth control to more Michiganders.


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1931 signing