Recent timeline of Michigan’s abortion laws and proposal 3


James Sklar


In 1931, the Michigan Legislature passed Public Act 328 of 1931 into law. This 1931 law,  which is still on Michigan’s books today, prohibits abortions even in the case of rape or incest, except to preserve the women’s life. The law makes it a felony for any person to perform or administer drugs for an abortion and makes it a misdemeanor to advertise or sell drugs that would produce an abortion.

In 1973, by a 7-2 majority, in the case of Roe v. Wade, the US Supreme Court recognized a women’s right to terminate her pregnancy based on the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment, which is a fundamental “right to privacy” that protects a pregnant woman’s choice. The court ruled that the state may not regulate the abortion decision, only the pregnant women and her physician. In the second trimester, the state may impose reasonable related regulations. In the third trimester, the state may regulate abortions because the fetus reaches the point of “viability.”

In 1992, by a 5-4 majority, the US Supreme Court upheld Roe v. Wade. In the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey case, the US Supreme Court created a new standard for states by making it illegal for states to impose an “undue burden” under the 14th Amendment. An “undue burden” is defined as “substantial obstacles in the path of a woman seeking an abortion before the fetus attains viability.”

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On December 1st, 2021, the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson regarding the right to an abortion.

On January, 7th 2022, a group called Reproductive Freedom for All was formed for the purposes of supporting a statewide ballot initiative to amend Michigan’s constitution.

On April 7th, 2022, Governor Whitmer filed a lawsuit to ask the Michigan Supreme Court to resolve whether Michigan’s constitution protects the right to an abortion.

On May 2nd, 2022, Politico released a draft opinion by Justice Alito, which would later be the Dobbs v. Jackson decision.

On May 17th, 2022, Chief Judge Gleicher on the Michigan Court of Appeals issued a temporary injunction suspending the enforcement of the 1931 law. This injunction applied to Michigan’s Attorney General and not on the individual county prosecutors.

On June 24th, 2022, in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson, by a vote of 6-3, the US Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, giving states the full power to regulate any aspect of an abortion not preempted by federal law.

On June 24th, Governor Whitmer filed a motion urging Michigan’s courts to immediately consider her lawsuit.

On July 11th, 2022, Reproductive Freedom for All and Michigan activists submit more than 753,759 signatures to put an abortion rights amendment on the November ballot

On July 19th, 2022, Dobbs took effect.

On August 1st, 2022, Oakland County Circuit Court granted the governor’s emergency motion for a temporary restraining order, which prohibits county prosecutors from enforcing the 1931 law.

On August 19th, 2022, Judge Cunningham granted a preliminary injunction, which meant the 1931 abortion law remains on hold and abortion in Michigan continues to be legal.

On September 9th, 2022, the Board of State Canvassers unanimously certified that the ballot initiative from Reproductive Freedom for All had received enough valid signatures, and the ballot initiative would be placed on the November ballot as proposal 22-3.

On November 8th, 2022, Proposal 3 passed with 2,480,000 “yes” votes (57%) to 1,897,417 “no” votes (43%).

On Dec 23rd, 2022, Proposal 3 will take effect according to MI Constitution Article XXII Section 2. The main amendment from Proposal 3 will restore the ruling from Roe, which will legalize abortions in Michigan and prevent people receiving or performing abortions from being criminally or civilly charged.