Whitmer asks state Supreme Court to clarify status of abortion access

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-Michigan).
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-Michigan).(WLUC/State of Michigan)
Published: Jun. 27, 2022 at 2:34 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WLUC) - Gov. Gretchen Whitmer sent a notice on Monday to the Michigan Supreme Court urging them to immediately consider her lawsuit to decide if the state’s constitution protects the right to abortion.

She sent the notice as county prosecutors and health providers misunderstood the current legal status of abortion in Michigan. While abortion remains legal in Michigan because of an injunction from the Michigan Court of Claims, recent events make it clear that the Michigan Supreme Court must expeditiously consider her lawsuit to avoid further confusion.

“Right now, abortion remains safe and legal in Michigan because of a court order temporarily blocking enforcement of the state’s 1931 abortion ban,” said Gov. Whitmer. “But in the wake of the decision in Dobbs overturning Roe, certain county prosecutors and health providers have expressed confusion about the current legal status of abortion in Michigan. This only underscores the need for the Michigan Supreme Court to act now, which is why I sent a notice to the court urging them to immediately take up my lawsuit and decide if access to abortion is protected under the Michigan Constitution. Getting this done will put an end to any confusion and ensure that Michiganders, health providers, and prosecutors understand the law.”

See Gov. Whitmer’s notice to the Michigan Supreme Court here.

The current version of Michigan’s law criminalizing abortion without exceptions for rape or incest was enacted in 1931. In 1973, the passage of Roe v Wade rendered Michigan’s 1931 ban unconstitutional and abortion became legal in the state of Michigan.

On May 17, 2022, a Michigan state judge granted a preliminary injunction in a suit brought by Planned Parenthood against Michigan’s unconstitutional 1931 law criminalizing abortion. This injunction temporarily blocks the abortion ban.

The governor filed a lawsuit and asked the Michigan Supreme Court to recognize a constitutional right to an abortion under the Due Process Clause of the Michigan Constitution. It also asks the court to stop enforcement of the 1931 Michigan abortion ban. The abortion ban violates Michigan’s due process clause, which provides a right to privacy and bodily autonomy that is violated by the state’s near-total criminal ban on abortion. It also 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 of women in society.

For Michiganders, this issue is beyond settled. According to a poll from January 2022, 67.3% of Michiganders support Roe and 65.7% support repealing Michigan’s 1931 trigger ban on abortion. Over 77% believe abortion should be a woman’s decision. A sizeable majority of Michiganders agree that abortion is a decision for a woman to make in consultation with a medical professional she trusts.

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