Members of the House Democratic Caucus announced their intention today to bring a bill to the floor that would repeal the state’s outdated and draconian law from 1931 that bans nearly all abortions in Michigan. House Bill 5289, sponsored by state Rep. Kyra Bolden (D-Southfield), has been languishing in the House Health Policy Committee since last September without a hearing.
“We expect the Supreme Court to issue an opinion any day now that could have a devastating effect on Michiganders’ reproductive rights. If Republicans in the Legislature are truly ready to have a conversation, then we need to start from a clean slate,” said state Rep. Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia), a co-sponsor of the bill who informed the clerk’s office of her intention to discharge the bill from its committee.
“Leaving a 90-year-old law on the books after 50 years of settled precedent is upended is no place to start a discussion. I’m challenging my Republican colleagues in the majority to pull this terrible law off the books and start the conversation. This is their policy or it isn’t, they can’t have it both ways, defending this exact law in court and then pretending they don’t believe in it in the press.”
This action comes in the aftermath of recent comments made by a member of House Republican leadership that contradict both the Republican caucus position and her own record on the matter. Republican legislative leadership recently filed in court to formally defend the extreme 1931 near-total abortion ban on behalf of the entire Legislature.
Now, however, Speaker Pro Tempore Pam Hornberger (R-Chesterfield Township) indicated to POLITICO over the weekend that “none of us are thinking we’re going to let this 1931 law go back into effect,” an abrupt reversal on the matter from Republicans and a statement directly at odds with all current Republican candidates for governor and attorney general.
Hornberger insisted to POLITICO that Republicans are “fully prepared” to hold bipartisan conversations on abortion policy, which would contradict her Right to Life endorsed position of supporting no exceptions for cases of rape and incest as well as her complete lack of action toward repealing the ‘31 ban or showing any willingness to do so.
“If Speaker Pro Tem Pam Hornberger says she’s ready to have these conversations, let’s get down to it,” says Rep. Kevin Hertel (D-St. Clair Shores). “She presides over this Legislature every day with that gavel in her hand, if she says Republicans are ready to have discussions I’ll take her word on that, but actions speak louder than words and the House can act on this now! This moment demands it.”
“But let’s do it from a clean slate, not with this arcane and cruel law over our heads that they now say none of them want to enforce anyway. If that’s the case, then let’s scrap it. If that’s the truth, they’ll vote to repeal the ban. They’ll tell us which story is true Tuesday, whether or not they stand for the extremist 1931 ban or whether Rep. Hornberger’s recent comments had even a grain of truth to them.”
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