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Whitmer signs repeal of Michigan’s 1931 abortion ban

<i>Carlos Osorio/AP</i><br/>Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses supporters before signing legislation to repeal the 1931 abortion ban on April 5 in Birmingham.
Carlos Osorio/AP
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses supporters before signing legislation to repeal the 1931 abortion ban on April 5 in Birmingham.

By Jack Forrest, CNN

Michigan’s Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday signed a repeal of the state’s 1931 abortion ban, which the Democratically controlled state legislature had passed last month.

“This is long overdue,” the Democratic governor, who campaigned on protecting abortion rights last fall, said in a statement on Twitter.

The ban’s repeal came a day after a major victory for abortion rights advocates in neighboring Wisconsin, where liberals won control of the state Supreme Court, which is expected to decide a lawsuit challenging the state’s 1849 abortion ban. In the wake of last summer’s US Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, protecting abortion rights has proven to be a galvanizing force for Democrats and independents, which helped power the Democratic majorities that made the Michigan repeal possible.

Democrats control both chambers in the Michigan legislature and the governor’s mansion for the first time in four decades after last fall’s midterms, when voters also voted to enshrine abortion rights in the state’s constitution.

Michigan’s state Senate majority immediately prioritized repealing the abortion ban — which prohibited the procedure even in cases of rape and incest, except to preserve the woman’s life, and had remained on the state’s books even after the landmark 1973 US Supreme Court ruling.

The state Senate passed the repeal last month in a 20-18 vote along party lines after earlier passing the state House.

“Finally ending this draconian abortion ban was made possible by our Democratic victories in the state legislature last year,” interim Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee President Heather Williams said in a statement. “This is another crystal-clear proof point that Democratic legislatures are critical for protecting and expanding abortion rights.”

Abortion rights advocacy group NARAL Pro-Choice America also thanked Whitmer for signing the repeal, calling the ban a “malignant threat to the health and well-being of Michiganders.”

“Today is a crucial step in the fight for freedom and abortion access for Michiganders today, tomorrow, and for generations to come,” NARAL President Mini Timmaraju said in a statement.

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CNN’s Shania Shelton and Gregory Krieg contributed to this report.

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