Jeff Fuentes Gleghorn
Governor Whitmer is suing 13 county prosecutors, including both the Washtenaw and Wayne County prosecutors, to protect abortion rights in Michigan. Michigan never overturned a 1931 law banning nearly all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest, and because the United States Supreme Court could potentially overturn Roe v Wade this year, which is the case that affirmed that the right to choose is protected by the U.S. Constitution, this 1931 law would immediately go back into effect and ban almost all abortions in Michigan.
Governor Whitmer is pre-emptively suing to overturn Michigan’s abortion law as violating the Michigan State Constitution. She is making use of a state specific power called “executive message” to ask the Michigan Supreme Court to immediately take up her case, an important step given the lengthy court proceedings that would normally slow down the decision. Seven of the thirteen county prosecutors, including both the Washtenaw and Wayne County prosecutors, released a statement in support of Whitmer’s lawsuit. They wanted to reassure their communities that they “support a woman’s right to choose and every person’s right to reproductive freedom.”
In a statement, Whitmer argued that “however we personally feel about abortion, a woman’s health, not politics, should drive important medical decisions. A woman must be able to make her own medical decisions with the advice of a healthcare professional she trusts – politicians shouldn’t make that decision for her.”
A majority of Michiganders agree with her. According to a 2020 study, 75 percent of Michiganders believe that abortion should remain legal. Perhaps surprisingly, over half of Republican voters agree that abortion should remain legal in Michigan as well, making this a bipartisan issue.
Governor Whitmer is not alone in acting to protect the right to choose. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan filed a lawsuit asking the courts to stop the Michigan Attorney General and all county prosecutors from enforcing the 90 year old law. The ACLU is arguing that the law violates Michiganders’ rights to liberty, bodily integrity, equal protection, and to privacy.
The ACLU has also started collecting signatures for a ballot proposal that would explicitly add the right to choose to the Michigan Constitution. Their ballot proposal, which could be up for a vote this November if they get enough signatures, would guarantee that people can make decisions about abortion, birth control, prenatal care, and childbirth without political interference. It would also guarantee safe and respectful care during birth and make sure no-one can be punished for having a miscarriage, stillbirth, or abortion.