State Sen. McMorrow tells US House committee about abortion challenges in Michigan

Riley Beggin
The Detroit News

Washington — State Sen. Mallory McMorrow testified before a U.S. House committee Wednesday about how abortion access will be impacted by the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. 

The hearing came the week the House plans to pass a bill that would codify a right to an abortion, though it is expected to fail in the Senate. 

The Royal Oak Democrat told the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee that a state law that outlaws abortion with few exceptions threatens access to necessary reproductive healthcare and urged Congress to take action.

"Getting pregnant is hard and staying pregnant safely and healthily is even harder," she said.

State Sen. Mallory McMorrow, D-Royal Oak, testifies virtually Wednesday before the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee.

McMorrow was vaulted into the national Democratic Party spotlight in late April when she delivered a fiery speech on the Senate floor about an attack in a fundraising email from Republican Sen. Lana Theis of Brighton.

At Wednesday's hearing, McMorrow told the story of a constituent who sought an abortion whose fetus developed a medical issue that meant it would not survive long outside the womb and would have threatened her ability to have more children in the future.

"I've had women reach out to me afraid of even trying to get pregnant knowing they're at higher risk of a complicated pregnancy and devastated to think of what might happen if it doesn't go exactly right," McMorrow said.

"Make no mistake, the impacts on the ground in Michigan are already and will continue to be devastating."

Abortions are still legal in Michigan because enforcement of the state's 1931 abortion ban has been halted by a Court of Claims judge. Republicans in the state Legislature have asked the Michigan Court of Appeals to overturn that injunction, which Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel has said she would not do.  

If the law is allowed to go into effect, it would bar abortions in almost all cases, including instances of rape or incest. It does allow abortions to "preserve the life" of the mother. The policy has been on the books in Michigan since the 1840s but was most recently updated in 1931. 

A ballot committee seeking to enshrine the right to abortion in the Michigan constitution turned in a record number of petition signatures on Monday to put the question before voters in November, exceeding the legally-mandated signature tally by more than 300,000.

"I've never seen anything like it," said U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, who serves on the committee. 

McMorrow added that that "the people are speaking and they're speaking very loudly, because they know how devastating" the law will be if it goes into effect. 

Nearly 58% of Michigan voters said they opposed the Supreme Court order overturning Roe v. Wade, according to a July 5-8 poll of 600 likely general election voters commissioned by The Detroit News and WDIV-TV. 

Among likely independent voters — a key voting bloc that traditionally decides Michigan elections — 68% said they oppose the Supreme Court order and 23% said they do not. Women opposed the high court's decision 63% to 30%.

McMorrow is competing with Sen. Marshall Bullock of Detroit in a Democratic primary on Aug. 2 to keep her seat representing the 8th District in the state Senate.

Michigan's new independent citizens redistricting commission drew McMorrow and Bullock into the new district, which connects parts of Detroit's northside with the Oakland County suburbs of Ferndale, Oak Park, Pleasant Ridge, Royal Oak, Berkley, Clawson and Birmingham.

Twitter: @rbeggin