Local reaction to decision overturning Roe v. Wade mixed

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Friday, a sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that made abortion legal in the United States while issuing an opinion regarding a Missouri abortion case.

The 6-3 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, in which the court's conservative majority sided together, overturns seminal case that legalized abortion nationally in 1973, Roe v. Wade.

"The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled," Justice Samuel Alito's opinion reads, "and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives."

The decision means Michigan’s 1931 law criminalizing most abortions is again enforceable: the statute only allows abortions "necessary to preserve the life of such woman.” The law does not allow exceptions for cases of rape or incest. The law is on hold under a temporary restraining order while Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's administration challenges the law in court.

“Today is a sad day for America," Whitmer said in a prepared statement, "as an unelected group of conservative judges act squarely against the will of the people and medical expertise. We can all sense the despair that tens of millions of Americans — our neighbors, family members and friends — are feeling right now. However we personally feel about abortion, health — not politics — should drive important medical decisions."

Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, in a statement, praised the decision.

"Today's Supreme Court ruling is a victory for those … who believe in the precious miracle of life. It also affirms the importance of federalism and states rights," he said. " But just as the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision caused dismay and sadness for millions of pro-life Americans, I know todays ruling upsets many of my fellow citizens who see the issue differently. Despite our strongly held differences on this very personal issue, I believe there is common ground to be found in celebrating life, supporting moms and dads, elevating families, and ensuring every child has a loving home."

Opinion by Livingston County legislators and residents was split Friday.

Caitlyn Perry Dial, 37, of Brighton, said she never thought she would have her right to reproductive health care taken away from her.

"I never thought it would come to this," she said. When the court's draft opinion overturning Roe was leaked a few weeks ago, it was hard for her to process.

"While we knew what the outcome was going to be, it doesn't make it feel any less devastating," said Dial, a Democratic candidate for the Livingston County Board.

U.S Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly, tweeted Friday about the decision: "We are now living in a post-Roe world," she tweeted.

"I got the news today that Roe v. Wade had been overturned while I was in the middle of a staff meeting. Even though we knew it was coming, it hit us like a ton of bricks," she tweeted. "For Michiganders, this ruling means we’re on the verge of a 1931 state law going back into effect that bans abortion in almost every instance, including rape and incest. It would make receiving or performing an abortion a felony offense."

Slotkin called on Republican U.S. senators to help codify Roe into federal law.

State Sen. Lana Theis, R-Brighton, said she is pro-life. Theis said it's is a deeply personal situation for everyone involved, and she looks forward to coming together to support parents, and give prenatal resources to bring babies safely into the world.

Livingston County State Rep. Ann Bollin, R-Brighton Township, did not immediately respond to requests for comment or issue a statement.

Mark Kotlyo, left, and Wanda Hicks, right, share their views on the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade on Friday, June 24, 2022.
Mark Kotlyo, left, and Wanda Hicks, right, share their views on the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade on Friday, June 24, 2022.

Livingston County Commissioner Mitchell Zajac, R-District 6, said as someone who is "pro life," he favors the decision.

"But to address it more from a legal perspective, from the policy perspective," he said, "I’ve always found big issues where the federal government seeks to impose broadly requirements upon the citizens from a conservative government, and limited government where government says this is what you must do that to me is problematic. So this case and then other cases have situations where, to me, the federal government has crossed the line on taking away power from the states and I think that shows up in a smaller level where states begin to take power away from local government and that’s a very important issue for folks in Livingston County, in particular, because we have perhaps a different way of life than other counties."

Zajac said the decision gives power back to local communities

Mark Kotylo, of Novi, said the federal government is too influential in everything and it should be up to the states to decide the legality of abortion.

"I'm OK with (the decision)," he said.

Among Livingston County women, the number of abortions per year has been decreasing since at least 1990. This follows a national trend of decreasing abortions since the late 1900s, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

In 2020, 192 abortions were reported among women in the county. The high was 317 in 2003.

Sophia Lada is a reporter for the Livingston Daily. Contact her at slada@gannett.com or 517.377.1065. Follow her on Twitter @sophia_lada.

This article originally appeared on Livingston Daily: Abortions in Livingston County have been trending down since the 1990s