Rep. Steve Carra introduces bill to make state abortion ban ‘enforceable’

Abortion rights protest in Anna Arbor, May 14, 2022 | Angela Demas

By Allison R. Donahue, Michigan Advance

State Rep. Steve Carra (R-Three Rivers) introduced a bill Wednesday to update the state’s 1931 abortion ban to “make it enforceable post-Roe v. Wade.”

House Bill 6270 updates the language of the 1931 bill to make it so an individual who performs or attempts to perform an abortion, except to save a “pregnant woman,” will be guilty of manslaughter. The charge includes a maximum sentence of not more than 10 years in prison and a fine of no more than $100,000.

“Although the Legislature is doing its best to defend this law, it will most likely result in a defeat for the pro-life movement, and it is time to begin exploring other avenues to protect the sanctity of human life,” Carra said in a statement Wednesday. 

The majority right-wing U.S. Supreme Court is expected to overturn the 1973 landmark decision in Roe v. Wade, which enshrined the right to an abortion in the U.S. Constitution, before the court recesses next week. Michigan has a 90-year-old abortion ban still on the books that would make all abortions a felony, unless to save the life of the “pregnant woman.” 

Currently, even if Roe is overturned, the state abortion ban is unenforceable after a Michigan Court of Claims judge in May granted a preliminary injunction in a Planned Parenthood lawsuit seeking to get rid of the law. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Wednesday that Carra’s bill is “disturbing.”

“The fact that there are legislators in the Republican Party who want to criminalize this and punish doctors means it is going to have a chilling effect on medical care in so many ways beyond this one issue. It’s going to be devastating for women, for our economy and for our abilities to design our lives and make our own decisions,” Whitmer said. “It is going to set women back decades, and the thought that women today will have fewer rights than I’ve always had is infuriating.”

Carra, who said he took inspiration from a similar bill in Oklahoma, also added language in the bill that states “nothing in this act shall be construed as authorizing an abortion that is illegal under any other provision of law.”

Planned Parenthood of Michigan declined to comment on this bill. 

 “We should all be deeply disturbed that radical lawmakers are working to criminalize health care in the state of Michigan,” said Dr. Rob Davidson, a West Michigan emergency physician and executive director for the Committee to Protect Health Care. “Abortion is a safe and standard part of health care, and hog-tying physicians or throwing them in jail for providing care will only harm our patients. Not only that, but these efforts could put Michigan on a slippery slope toward a future where common, important health care procedures are banned just because certain politicians don’t agree with them, putting people’s health and lives at grave risk.”

Michigan Advance is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Michigan Advance maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Susan Demas for questions: [email protected] Follow Michigan Advance on Facebook and Twitter.

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