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IN THE COURTS | Supreme Court Declines To Hear Appeal of Ruling That Struck Down Mich. Law Banning Some Abortions

IN THE COURTS | Supreme Court Declines To Hear Appeal of Ruling That Struck Down Mich. Law Banning Some Abortions
[Jan. 8, 2008]

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal of a June 2007 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision that struck down a Michigan law banning some types of abortions, including so-called "partial-birth" abortion, the AP/MLive.com reports. Supreme Court justices did not comment on their decision to let the lower court ruling stand (AP/MLive.com, 1/7).

The American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America in March 2005 filed suit in federal court to prevent enforcement of the law, known as the Legal Birth Definition Act. The law would have changed the legal definition of birth to the first moment any part of a fetus is outside a woman's body. The measure, which became law in June 2004, was scheduled to take effect on March 30, 2005. However, U.S. District Judge Denise Page Hood approved a temporary restraining order preventing it from being enforced, calling the law confusing and vague.

A three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit Court in June 2007 upheld the lower court decision that declared the law unconstitutional and ruled the law poses an "undue burden" on women seeking the procedure. The panel also said that the Michigan law is broader than a federal law (S 3) banning some abortions, upheld in April 2007 by the Supreme Court and that the state law potentially could apply to abortions using other methods earlier in pregnancy (Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 6/5/07).

Reaction

Pam Sherstad, spokesperson for Right to Life of Michigan, said abortion opponents in the state will push the state Legislature to pass another state ban that mirrors the federal law. Sherstad said a state ban would make the law easier to enforce (Christoff, Detroit Free Press, 1/8). Ed Rivet, legislative director for RTLM, said the attempt will have "strong bipartisan support in both chambers." He added, "If there's any question, it will be what the governor might decide to do with the bill." Liz Boyd -- spokesperson for Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D), who vetoed the 2004 state law -- said the governor has not reviewed any pending legislation (AP/MLive.com, 1/7).

Kari Moss, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, said abortion opponents' attempt to push a state ban is "silly" because Michigan is required to comply with the federal ban on the procedure. "Right to Life is simply trying to rally the troops around an issue," Moss said, adding, "They have tried and failed on three occasions. It's time for them to stop wasting Michigan taxpayers' money" (Detroit Free Press, 1/8).