While the U.S. Supreme Court can quash or weaken the landmark Roe v. Wade case to protect abortion rights, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is suing county prosecutors in her state in an effort to protect legal abortion.
The move comes as Democratic governors across the country brace for decisions on abortion accessfor the first time in more than 50 years, a potentially critical issue likely to resonate in the midterm elections.
Whitmer is preemptively indicting 13 elected Michigan prosecutors who have an abortion clinic within their jurisdiction, an action designed to circumvent a 1931 Michigan abortion law that would ban abortion even in cases of rape or incest. The law, which is still on the books, is not currently in effect because the 1973 federal ruling in Roe v. Wade replaces state law and protects women’s abortion rights. But if Roe v. Wade is destroyed, it will be activated automatically.
Whitmer, who is up for re-election in November, is using a state-specific constitutional power granted to her as governor to ask the Michigan Supreme Court to face her lawsuit and recognize the right to abortion. Democrats currently hold a 4-to-3 majority in the Michigan Supreme Court.
“This is no longer theoretical: It’s reality,” Whitmer said in a statement about the possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade could quash this session. “While we personally think about abortion, a woman’s health, not politics, should make important medical decisions. A woman should be able to make her own medical decisions with the advice of a healthcare professional she trusts – politicians should shouldn’t have to make that decision for her.”
She added that a total ban on abortion, such as the Michigan law of 1931, would deprive women of their productive and economic freedom.
“Whatever happens to Roe, I’m going to fight hard and use whatever resources I have as governor to make sure reproductive freedom is a right for all women in Michigan. If the U.S. Supreme Court denies the constitutional right to an abortion, the Michigan Supreme Court to intervene,” she added.
In response to the governor’s actions, seven Michigan prosecutors released their own statement in support of her efforts, saying they “cannot and will not support the criminalization of reproductive freedom.” At the same time, Planned Parenthood of Michigan and one of the providers filed a separate lawsuit to block enforcement of the 1931 abortion ban.
Meanwhile, multiple groups, including Michigan’s ACLU, are collecting signatures for a ballot measure to protect abortion rights in Michigan. If they get the necessary signatures, that measure could be at the ballot box as early as November.
This comes as the U.S. Supreme Court will rule in late June in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, which is assessing the constitutionality of Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban. If the Supreme Court, which now has a conservative majority of 6-3, were to weaken or knock down Roe this seat, the Mississippi case would likely be the vehicle.
If Roe v. Wade were reversed, more than 2 million women in Michigan would lose access to safe and legal abortions, Whitmer’s office says. According to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights research organization, 26 states across the country would likely ban abortion.
Colorado Governor Jared Polis, another Democrat to be re-elected,into state law early this year. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy also signed a bill in January protecting women’s right to abortion. In California, Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation last month that also eliminates out-of-pocket abortion costs. In Vermont, a constitutional amendment will be presented to voters in November.
Unlike these Democratic governors who sign legislation passed by the Democratic legislature, Whitmer’s route runs through the courts because the Michigan legislature is a majority Republican and would not pass a law to protect abortion rights.
Republican governors and lawmakers have also made plans in light of the possibility that the federal abortion law could change. They have passed legislation to limit access to abortion. In March, the Texas Supreme Court allowed the recently passed abortion ban to remain in effect. Last month, the Arizona governor signed a 15-week abortion ban, the Idaho governor a 6-week abortion ban, and the South Dakota governor also signed abortion restrictions. On Tuesday, Oklahoma’s state house passed a bill that would†
Republicans have been preparing to counter abortion Democrats by pressuring Democratic candidates about the limits of abortion they advocate. They point to a recent debate in Arizona, where Democratic governor candidate Katie Hobbs did not specify whether she supports the state’s current 15-week abortion ban.
“This is the question every Democrat pro-abortion candidate will be asked this year. The inability or refusal of this Democrat candidate to answer underlines the importance of this question,” said Nathan Brand, spokesperson for the Democratic Party. Republican National Committee.
Prior to the Supreme Court ruling,found that a majority of Americans support keeping Roe v Wade in place. If the historic abortion case is quashed, most said they still want abortion to remain legal in their state.