The Michigan state Senate on Wednesday voted to repeal the state’s 1931 abortion ban as well as its sentencing guidelines.
The bills were passed 20-18, along party lines in the Democratic-controlled Senate after passing the House last week and were sent to Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for her signature. Democrats control the governor’s office and the state legislature for the first time in four decades.
Whitmer has been a vocal supporter of abortion rights, using the issue as a driving force in her 2022 reelection campaign. The governor filed a lawsuit against several county prosecutors in her state last year in an attempt to prevent the 1931 ban from taking effect after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
The Michigan law, which was invalidated by the 1973 high court decision but remained on the state’s books, prohibits abortions even in cases of rape or incest, except to preserve the woman’s life.
Michigan state Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks previously told CNN one of the first priorities of the new legislature would be to repeal the ban that was put back in play after the Supreme Court’s ruling last summer.
In September, a state court declared the abortion ban unconstitutional and blocked it from being enforced, allowing abortion to remain legal in the state.
Michigan voters enshrined abortion rights in the state constitution during the midterms, a move that was intended to help block the ban from taking effect.
But reproductive rights advocates see the bills’ passage through the legislature as “major step forward.”
“This is proof positive that elections matter,” Mini Timmaraju, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said in a statement. “Michiganders made clear in the midterms that they overwhelmingly support reproductive freedom, and repealing this oppressive pre-Roe ban sends an unmistakable signal that Michigan will always fight for abortion access.”
Democratic state senators celebrated the bills’ passage in the legislature Wednesday.
“My abortion was necessary to save my life,” state Sen. Rosemary Bayer said on Twitter. “I’m glad I’m here today because of that, and to be able to vote on this bill and ensure this life-saving healthcare is protected and kept safe and legal here in Michigan.”
Republicans in the Michigan state Senate, however, oppose the new effort and have described it as “dangerous.”
“While Senate Republicans have introduced legislation to strengthen safeguards for women, Senate Democrats are rushing dangerous bills to repeal long-standing protections for women and the unborn,” GOP state Sen. Joseph Bellino said in a statement.