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Whitmer urges Michigan Supreme Court to consider abortion lawsuit


Whitmer urges Michigan Supreme Court to consider abortion lawsuit

Jun 24, 2022 | 4:11 pm ET
By Jon King
Whitmer urges Michigan Supreme Court to consider abortion lawsuit
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gives the keynote address at the 2022 Mackinac Policy Conference on June 2, 2022 | Allison R. Donahue

Following Friday’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to deny the constitutional right to abortion, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer filed a motion urging the Michigan Supreme Court to weigh in on whether the state constitution will offer that protection.

“Today, I filed a motion urging the court to immediately take up my lawsuit to protect abortion in Michigan,” Whitmer said in a prepared statement. “We need to clarify that under Michigan law, access to abortion is not only legal, but constitutionally protected. The urgency of the moment is clear—the Michigan court must act now.”

Whitmer filed her lawsuit in April seeking to recognize the right to an abortion under the state constitution. Such a ruling would be similar to what the U.S. Supreme Court did with the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which declared abortion to be a constitutional right. Her suit also seeks to strike down the state’s 1931 abortion ban law, which was rendered as unconstitutional with Roe’s passage, but was never taken off the books.

“With today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision, Michigan’s extreme 1931 law banning abortion without exceptions for rape or incest and criminalizing doctors and nurses who provide reproductive care is poised to take effect,” Whitmer said. “If the 1931 law goes into effect, it will punish women and strip away their right to make decisions about their own bodies. That is why I filed a lawsuit in April and used my executive authority to urge the Michigan Supreme Court to immediately resolve whether Michigan’s state constitution protects the right to abortion. I will fight like hell to protect the rights of Michigan women.” 

Whitmer’s lawsuit argues that the 1931 abortion ban violates Michigan’s due process clause, which provides a right to privacy and bodily autonomy. It also claims the ban violates Michigan’s Equal Protection Clause “due to the way the ban denies women equal rights because the law was adopted to reinforce antiquated notions of the proper role for women in society.”

In May, a Michigan Court of Claims judge granted a preliminary injunction in a suit brought by Planned Parenthood against the 1931 law, temporarily blocking it from taking effect. Whitmer said that further emphasized the need to permanently protect legal abortion in Michigan. 

In her release announcing the motion for immediate consideration, Whitmer said the issue was “beyond settled,” pointing to a January 2022 poll by WDIV and The Detroit News, which indicated 67.3% of Michiganders support Roe and 65.7% support repealing Michigan’s 1931 trigger ban on abortion. Another 77%, believe abortion should be a woman’s decision.  

“A sizeable majority of Michiganders agree that abortion is a decision to for a woman to make in consultation with a medical professional she trusts,” stated the release.