Michigan Legislature repeals abortion ban, prohibits LGBTQ discrimination


After winning back control of the Legislature for the first time in 40 years, the Democratic majority is passing a host of progressive bills.

Democrats in Michigan passed a bevy of progressive bills on Wednesday after winning a majority in both houses of the state Legislature last November for the first time since 1984.

Two of the bills that now go to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's desk delivered on promises she made on the campaign trail: one that repeals the state's 1931 ban on abortion and a second that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Three more bills passed in the Michigan House along party line votes, and now go to the Senate: a bill that would require universal background checks for all gun purchases in the state; a bill that would allow unions to require that workers pay dues when they work in positions that are part of a bargaining unit; and a bill that would require contractors to pay their workers union-level wages for state jobs.

"In case you missed it, Michigan Democrats passed bills to: Expand LGBTQ+ civil rights protections; repeal anti-union Right to Work laws; restore prevailing wage; require background checks for all firearm purchases. All within 12 hours," the Michigan Democratic Party tweeted on Thursday.

The bill repealing Michigan's 1931 abortion ban, which prohibited all abortions except in cases where the life of the pregnant person was at risk, passed by a vote along party lines.

The 1973 Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision blocked Michigan's abortion ban, but it could have gone back into effect after the court overturned that ruling last June. However, a state court blocked the law's enforcement in September, and voters approved a ballot proposal enshrining abortion rights in the state Constitution during the November 2022 midterm election.

"In 2022, voters made their voices heard loud and clear: they want to protect the right to choose. I’m proud of Democrats in the Michigan legislature for repealing the 1931 abortion ban and standing against Republicans who have doubled down on their support for the extremist law," Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes tweeted.

The bill banning discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation will also go to Whitmer's desk for signature.

"Played hooky for a bit this afternoon to watch my state rep @koleszar_matt vote for equal rights for all Michiganders. What a phenomenal moment for our state! Equal justice under the law for everyone," Dana Nessel, Michigan's first openly gay attorney general, tweeted.

Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, signed the "right to work" legislation in 2012, a law that allowed workers to opt out of paying union dues even if they benefited from collective bargaining. Republicans said the law gave workers the "freedom to choose"; unions said the decreased amounts of paid dues weakened their ability to negotiate the contracts from which the nonpaying workers also benefited.

State House Speaker Joe Tate celebrated the party's legislative successes in a tweet, writing: "There’s only a finite amount of time for us to get things done. Promises Made. Promises Kept."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.