Abortion Criminalized in Michigan: What You Need to Know

Abortion Criminalized in Michigan - Criminal defense attorney

Did you know that abortion is already banned in the state of Michigan?

Michigan has the most total ban on abortion in the entire nation, pre-Roe v. Wade.

The law (MCL 750.14) passed in 1846 states “Any person who willfully administers to any pregnant woman any medicine, drug, substance, or employs any instrument or other means, with intent to procure an abortion, unless to preserve the life of the mother, would be deemed guilty of manslaughter.”

However, as you probably know, the Supreme Court decisions Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton effectively rendered this section of Michigan code irrelevant when it made abortion legal nationwide under almost any circumstances.

States Making Abortion Laws

You may have been surprised to find states racing to make abortion laws of their own earlier this summer, even though the landmark decisions of 40 years ago make it fully legal in all 50 states.

Michigan has two different groups working on two different abortion bans to be added to the one already in state law.

Right to Live of Michigan has helped introduce a bill that would ban abortions commonly performed in later pregnancy, which include the dismemberment of the fetus.

Both the State Senate and House have passed it.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has vowed to veto the bills, and the pro-life organization plans to obtain 400,000 signatures on a petition that would bypass the governor entirely.

The Michigan Heartbeat Coalition has helped to introduce a bill that would make abortion illegal after a fetal heartbeat could be detected – at around six weeks of pregnancy. It is currently in the process of bringing a petition before the House.

States such as Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, West Virginia, and others have brought anti-abortion legislation specifically to challenge the precedent set by Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton and to bring it before the Supreme Court again.

Overturning Roe v. Wade

Opinions abound as to how likely it is the Supreme Court will overturn its decision. It came close in 1992 with the Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision. However, the court ultimately upheld its previous decision.

There is a precedent in cases like Brown v. Board Of Education of 1954, which ended the legal segregation of schools. However, one of the Supreme Court’s significant interests is called stare decisis, or fidelity to precedent. This term means that once the court has made a decision, it’s in the interest of the nation for it to “stick to” its previous decision.

What Would it Look Like if Roe v. Wade was Overturned?

From a criminal standpoint, doctors who currently perform abortions would have to find a new profession or risk criminal prosecution, resulting in potential prison sentences.

The “dismemberment” bill would make this type of abortion a felony under state law. If Roe v. Wade was overturned, and the previous legislation on Michigan books was not overturned, abortion would be considered a felony in this state.

If the procedure resulted in the death of the mother, the doctor could be charged with manslaughter.


David J. Kramer, experienced domestic violence defense lawyer

It is an understatement to say that this time has been one of social unrest and upheaval. The issue of abortion is one of the hottest issues of our time.

No matter what happens, we believe in the right of anyone accused of a crime to be rigorously defended. If you are facing criminal charges, reach out for a consultation today.

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