Right to Life Michigan lawsuit challenges state abortion law

In Michigan, abortion rights are enshrined in the state's constitution, but in November, Right to Life Michigan sued state leaders -and now the attorney general is responding.

In 2022, Michigan voters overwhelmingly supported proposal three - enshrining the right to an abortion in the state's constitution.

The move came in response to the US Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and said the states should decide. But the battle is far from over.

"The voters have had their say - but for the anti-abortion activists - it just doesn't matter," said AG Dana Nessel.

"We filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Proposal Three," said attorney Robert Muise.

Muise is the co-founder of the American Freedom Law Center - representing Right to Life Michigan as well as several state lawmakers and medical professionals in suing Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Nessel, and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to overturn Prop 3 - claiming it violates the rights of his anti-abortion clients.

"Regulating abortions is going to be far more difficult - in fact, it's going to be likely impossible," he said. "And it's going to result in harm to women more than anything else."

Muise says the broad protections in Proposal Three violate the rights of the unborn, the rights of parents to protect their children, the rights of doctors to protect their patients, and of lawmakers to do their job.

"These are fundamental rights, at the end of the day what we're trying to do is protect women and children," Muise said. "I wonder how many people when they voted for this prop three that they were voting for partial birth abortion."

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel on this day filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

"This is a very real threat to those of us who believe in reproductive freedom here in the state of Michigan and who also believe in democracy," she said.

Nessel adds that 57 percent of Michiganders voted for reproductive freedom in the form of Proposal 3 - but this lawsuit could overturn all of that.

"That is my greatest fear - is that the will of the voters will be overturned," she said. "(And) in this instance, I think it's a helpful reminder that abortion and reproductive rights are always on the ballot - every single election."

Nessel says with 21 states banning some or all abortions, and with the US Supreme Court now considering outlawing medical abortion, with some Republican lawmakers in favor of a nationwide ban on abortions, Michigan voters can't afford to sit on the sidelines.

"It's really something to think about for this year and whether people decide to be engaged in the process and to vote for both state and federal offices," Nessel said. "Or, whether they're going to sit it out because they don't love either candidate."

In the meantime - the future of proposal three - and reproductive freedom in Michigan could be decided by the courts - instead of what was decided at the ballot box.

"This is a moral issue that strikes at the fiber of who we are as human beings," said Muise. "We're on the side of the angels on this."