A federal judge Monday declared unconstitutional a Michigan law attempting to ban some abortion procedures. US District Court Judge Denise Page Hood wrote that the Legal Birth Definition Act is vague and confusing—”The act does not describe any specific procedure to be banned”—and that it does not adequately provide exceptions for a woman’s life and health, the Associated Press reports. Furthermore, it “creates a ban on actions at the heart of abortion procedures from the earliest stages of pregnancy,” Hood wrote, the Center for Reproductive Rights reports.
This is the third time in the past decade that the state Legislature has enacted a ban on abortion procedures. In 1997, a federal judge ruled one such law unconstitutional for being overbroad; in 2001, a judge threw out a second ban for not including exceptions for a woman’s health. “Michigan legislatures should think of the phrase, ‘three strikes you’re out,’ and move on to dealing with the problems of our state that truly need their attention,” said Kary Moss, executive director ACLU of Michigan, in a statement released yesterday.
In this round, voters signed a petition to allow the bill to become law without the approval of Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat who vetoed a similar measure the year before. Instead of naming a specific procedure, the act gave a fetus individual legal rights from the moment any portion of it left a woman’s body. The only exception was an “imminent threat” to a woman’s physical health or to save her life.