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Roe v. Wade's end could make Canada the closest place to get legal abortions for metro Detroiters

Posted at 6:16 PM, May 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-03 18:16:22-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — If the U.S. Supreme Court officially overturns Roe v. Wade, as Michigan law stands now, abortion would become illegal in Michigan.

There is a 1931 law on the books in Michigan that bans doctors from performing abortions unless they are necessary to save a woman’s life.

Pew Charitable Trusts shared a map of the United States to show how access to abortion would change if Roe v. Wade were overturned.

Pew Charitable Trusts Legal State of Abortion Map

Michigan and Ohio have laws that would ban abortion. Indiana is expected to ban abortion. The closest states to Michigan where access to abortion is protected under the law are Illinois and New York.

That means the closest place people from metro Detroit would have access to a legal abortion would likely become Canada.

“Whether abortion is legal or illegal, it will be sought out,” said Carolyn Egan, spokesperson for the Ontario Coalition for Abortion Clinics.

Egan says she knows what would happen as a result of such restricted access because she witnessed it in Canada, where abortion was illegal until 1988. She says Canadian women with the economic means to do so traveled across the border to the United States for abortions.

Abortion is now legal in Canada . Hospitals there may not be able to serve Americans without a Canadian health card for elective abortions, but clinics would be able to.

“I would think that there would be physicians and medical personnel who would set something up in the Windsor area,” Egan said.

Jason Wasserman, an associate professor at Oakland University’s William Beaumont School of Medicine said, “Smart policy and practical wisdom dictate that we think about the range of consequences that are going to come from that.”

Wasserman says the law would have a greater impact on the poor. It would be less likely to prevent wealthier women from getting legal abortions because they would have the means to take time off from work and travel.

Several local prosecutors have said they will not enforce the 1931 Michigan abortion law in their counties. Wasserman says the Supreme Court decisions would still impact insurance and hospital policies that influence doctors. A likely consequence based on history is that we would see an increase in unqualified people performing illegal abortions.

“We saw it prior to Roe. There are far more unsafe practices that people will avail themselves of,” Wasserman said.

While it is not clear how many will simply not have abortions that otherwise would have if they become illegal in Michigan, it is possible that thousands more babies will be born. In 2020, Doctors reported inducing 29,669 abortions, according to the Michigan Department of Community Health.